Dentist Sandy Springs: Sleight of Hand

300px-American_Dental_Association_svgAccording to the American Dental Association, the use of a non-health degree in an announcement to the public (such as in a practice website or blog) may be misleading because the public is likely to assume that any degree announced is related to the qualifications of the dentist as a practitioner.  Many dental related associations grant dentists ‘fellowship’ status as a token of membership in the organization or some other form of voluntary association.[1]  But the use of such fellowships in advertising to the general public is misleading because of the likelihood that it will indicate to the public the attainment of some enhanced education or skill in the field of dentistry.

The problem in the practice of dentistry is the misrepresentation of the qualifications of the holder that is inferred in these designations.  In order to properly serve the public, dentists should represent themselves in a manner that contributes to the esteem of the profession.  Dentists should not misrepresent their training and competence in any way that would be false or misleading in any material respect.  Although any dentist may advertise, no dentist shall solicit patients in a form of communication that is false or misleading by suggesting they have reached some additional accreditation by being associated with one of these dental organizations.   A general dentist may announce fellowships or other credentials earned in the area of general dentistry so long as they avoid any communications that express or imply specialization in a particular area of dentistry and the announcement includes the disclaimer that the dentist is a general dentist.  Additionally, the ADA dissuades the use of abbreviations to designate credentials when such use would lead the reasonable person to believe that the designation represents an academic degree, which is usually the case.

Dental specialties are designed to help the public make an informed selection between the practitioner who has completed an accredited program beyond the dental degree and a practitioner who has not completed such a program.  The dental specialties recognized by the American Dental Association and the designation for ethical specialty announcement and limitation of practice are: dental public health, endodontics, oral and maxillofacial pathology, oral and maxillofacial radiology, oral and maxillofacial surgery, orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics, pediatric dentistry, periodontics and prosthodontics.

Novy Scheinfeld, DDS, PC

290 Carpenter Drive, 200A

Atlanta, GA 30328


[1]These fellowships are not ADA accredited.


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