At the recent American Dental Association Annual Session, the ADA House of Delegates passed Resolution 52. This resolution says, "Resolved that in order to enhance dental patient health and safety, the ADA urges all state dental boards to register U.S. dental laboratories." The culmination of ADA taking this step has been more than ten years in the making. NADL President-Elect Gary Iocco and Bill D'Aiuto, DDS, former Chair of the ADA Council on Dental Practice and a current Trustee for the National Board for Certification in Dental Laboratory Technology testified at the ADA proceedings on this resolution.
"Doctors from around the country testified at Reference Committees Hearings and on the House of Delegates floor in favor of Resolution 52, commenting that this was a supportive measure to ensure the domestic dental laboratory industry would thrive in the future by ensuring basic standards of operation," says Iocco.
Dentistry is regulated at the state level through boards of dentistry. Those regulatory boards oversee everything from business requirements, continuing education and other practice criteria required to operate for dentists, dental hygienists, dental assistants and in a few states dental laboratories and technicians.
Due to its governance structure, the ADA relies on the actions of independent state associations/societies to foster policies at the state level. This is why, in most cases, to get something done on a nationwide basis takes a long time. However, if ADA policy recommends a certain path, it is generally widely adopted at the grassroots level.
During the course of the last 10 years, NADL and NBC have worked diligently with the staff and elected leadership of the American Dental Association and other allied dental organizations to change the perspective of how regulations and best practices are looked at with respect to dental laboratories.
For many years, ADA has maintained a high level of respect for the "Certified Dental Technician" credential. Within existing ADA policy, there are many references to dentists, at all levels to work with CDTs, as the policy narrative speaks to the competency of the technician due to their likely formal education and their verified skill and knowledge through national examinations.
In recent years, through the efforts of the NADL, the ADA House of Delegates has passed additional policy resolutions that address both patient contact material disclosure and point of origin disclosure to enhance both dentist as well as patient transparency.
What has been missing is a tie to enforcing such best practices. The fact that the new resolution passed addresses laboratory registration provides a platform where a political discussion within the states can take place on integrating a comprehensive set of standards. As a result, it is likely there will be better enforcement of existing laws and regulations.
"The fact that ADA even took such a policy stand is a huge victory and cannot be overstated," says Henry Martin, CDT, 2013 NADL President.
NADL will continue to work collaboratively with the ADA, and with state dental laboratory associations to ensure that moving forward any new regulations that are considered at the state level are created in a manner that patient health and safety are the outcomes achieved while maintaining an eye towards minimizing the costs of compliance.
For more information on the NADL, visit www.nadl.org.