|May 12, 2016 04:13 PM
|Representative Thomas P. Murt
|All House members
|Regulating Orthodontics Offered Through the Mail
|In the near future, I will introduce legislation which will protect Pennsylvanians who seek orthodontics treatment through the mail. A recent trend has evolved whereby dental labs are offering to straighten teeth or offer orthodontics treatment and/or appliances through the mail without a face-to-face patient consultation with a dentist or orthodontist. This very dangerous practice needs to be measured-in in order to protect consumers, or in this case, dental patients. This is an arrangement we would not allow in any other medical scenario.
Getting braces or receiving orthodontic treatment without actually seeing a dentist or orthodontist is extremely risky and unsafe. Braces or teeth straightening appliances are NOT appropriate for every patient. Some patients have undiagnosed gum disease or periodontal problems which make braces inappropriate and even hazardous for that patient. These periodontal problems cannot always be manifested through photographs or through molds which are sent by the patient through the mail for review by a dental lab technician. In some cases, before braces are prescribed by an orthodontist, a patient will be required to visit a periodontist so the patient’s gum health and strength can be properly and clinically assessed. A periodontist specializes in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of periodontal and gum disease. This assessment frequently utilizes x-rays to observe the health of the bone below the gum line. This is another assessment which cannot be made through the mail.
One of the critical factors for the success of adult orthodontics is the health condition of the patient’s gums. Adult patients are more susceptible to gum disease which weakens the teeth’s supporting tissues. If gum disease is not treated before wearing the dental braces, the already weakened jaw bone may not withstand the applied pressure and suffer permanent damage that could cause tooth loss. In addition, jaw bone growth cannot be properly assessed through postal orthodontics services. Postal orthodontics cannot take into consideration this growing process for cases that require modification of the jaw’s size or position.
My legislation will make it unlawful for dental technicians or dental labs to furnish services to any person without first obtaining a prescription from a dentist.
Please join me in affording a measure of protection to dental patients across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Introduced as HB2136