Following a public comment period, the Federal Trade Commission has approved a final order settling charges that the Alabama Board of Dental Examiners, a body controlled by licensed dentists, violated antitrust laws by requiring on-site supervision by licensed dentists of tooth alignment scans for prospective patients who are seeking to address misaligned teeth or gaps between teeth.
Under the terms of the settlement, the Board must no longer impede clear aligner platforms, or dental professionals affiliated with them, from providing clear aligner therapy through remote treatment.
First announced in September 2021, the complaint alleged that although these scans are routinely administered by dental assistants and other non-dentist practitioners, in 2017, the Board amended a rule so as to prohibit dental assistants and other non-dentist practitioners from performing scans inside a patient’s mouth without on-site dentist supervision. The Dental Board’s requirement limited consumer choice and impeded competition from new providers in the state of Alabama, according to the complaint. The Board’s enaction of this requirement was not supervised by neutral state officials with the power to veto or modify the Board’s action.
The Commission vote to approve the final order was 4-0.