The AAO and Rhode Island orthodontists worked to kill the bill after last-minute amendment would have limited the state dental board’s ability to regulate teledentistry. 

A Rhode Island bill that would have limited the state dental board’s ability to regulate teledentistry unless the same requirements were also required for in-person treatment has failed. The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) and Rhode Island orthodontists were concerned the bill would have prevented the Board from requiring an x-ray be taken prior to beginning orthodontic treatment through teledentistry unless it was also required for in-person treatment.

The bill, H-6032, introduced in the Rhode Island State Legislature in February 2021, originally was focused on providing telemedicine coverage under Rhode Island Medicaid. The bill had no component relevant to teledentistry until June 29 when it was amended prior to a floor vote. The amendment included language that would have prevented the Board of Dentistry from adopting rules imposing a different or more restrictive standard of care on teledentistry than the rules for the delivery of dental care in person. 

Rhode Island orthodontists, led by Cosmo Haralambidis, DMD, the AAO, and the Rhode Island Dental Association and its members, led the efforts to oppose the amendment which was added at the last minute before the June 29 floor vote. Once they got word of the amendment, the AAO and its Rhode Island members worked over a 48 hour period to contact state representatives to voice their concerns. After hearing from their constituent dentists and orthodontists about the amendment, several state legislators indicated their concern about the amended bill. This led to a delay of the initial floor vote, giving Rhode Island AAO members an additional opportunity to reach out to their legislators. The bill failed on the last day of the legislative session. 

Ken Dillehay, DDS, MS, president of the AAO, reacted to the legislative victory, “Dr Haralambidis, along with each of the Rhode Island orthodontists who contacted their state representatives, and the AAO’s Legal and Advocacy Team demonstrated the impact orthodontists can have on the legislative process, including the importance of educating legislators on issues of patient health and safety.”