In a visit to Capitol Hill this week, Robert Bray, DDS, MS, former president of the AAO, and fellow orthodontists cautioned lawmakers against subjecting orthodontists to new consumer-protection rules aimed at the banking industry.

Orthodontists worry that a provision in the banking reform legislation currently being debated by Congress is too broad and would unfairly target orthodontic practices that extend credit to their patients to pay for treatment.

"Orthodontists did not cause this financial crisis, and we should not be a part of this in any way," said Bray, who employs 12 people at five dental offices in and around Atlantic City, NJ.

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd (D-Conn) said he is not targeting "the local grocer" with consumer-protection language. "You have to be in the business of financial services or products to be affected," he said last week. "We took care of those dentists and others who were worried."

Until final legislation is passed, many orthodontists, dental professionals, and other small business owners continue to worry that the language is so sweeping that they cannot be sure whether they are affected.

"We are exempt only if we don’t offer any financial arrangements to patients," said Matthew Messina, a dentist in Fairview Park, Ohio. "Now I can’t be a nice guy. I don’t want to be a bank."