The Federal Trade Commission announced that it has entered into a consent order which settles charges it had brought against the South Carolina State Board of Dentistry in 2003 alleging unfair trade practices.
The FTC alleged in 2001 that the Board of Dentistry had unlawfully restrained competition by requiring a dentist to examine every child before a dental hygienist could provide preventive care (such as cleanings) in schools.
Changes were made in 2000 to South Carolina law which allowed dental hygienists to provide preventive type services without a dentist having to first examine the child. The Board of Dentistry followed with the requirement that a dentist first examine all children which the FTC alleges resulted in fewer children receiving preventive care in schools.
State legislators again amended dental regulations in 2003 by passing a law that reversed the board’s policy, preventing the board from trying to go around state law.
The FTC consent order requires the Board of Dentistry to publicly announce its support of current law which allows a hygienist’s exam without a previous dentist exam if conducted in a public-health setting.
The board is also required to notify the FTC if it considers altering any policies related to preventive dental care services.
Officials with the state board referred all questions to the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, which then referred all questions to the board’s lawyers, who could not be reached for comment.