Tag Archives: Dentist

U.S. Supreme Court to hear laser teeth whitening case brought by North Carolina dental board

Should dental boards be allowed to demand to regulate laser teeth whitening and should doctors be able to set their own fees for the cost of these services?

Should dental boards be allowed to demand to regulate laser teeth whitening and should doctors be able to set their own fees for the cost of these services?

The North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners (“NCBDE”) wants to regulate the increasingly popular laser teeth whitening services. These cosmetic treatments are currently available in shopping malls and health and beauty spas around all over North Carolina and the U.S. The question the U.S. Supreme Court is asked to answer is whether these services should be included in the category of dental services that require a licensed dentist to perform.

The NCBDE, according to recent news reports[i], sent at least 47 cease and desist letters to non-dentists in 2003, which included allegations the individuals were practicing dentistry without a license. Many have since closed up shop and are no longer in business.

Is laser teeth whitening a dental practice requiring a dentist?

The laser whitening process often involves disposable strips with whitening agents that are placed on the teeth using whitening strips, and they are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) as cosmetics. Laser whitening is popular in part because it is a relatively affordable cosmetic treatment at most local malls and spas. If however, you asked your local dentist to whiten your teeth, the same procedure might cost ten times the amount.

Why are dentists so expensive? The value of professionally licensed dental services includes the security of knowing the person performing the whitening process has graduated from dental school and passed required licensing exams. Dentists have unique knowledge and understanding of our teeth and how best to maintain and protect them. In addition, dentists with malpractice insurance pay costly premiums for their policies insuring their dental practice, and in the event a patient is injured or something goes wrong with the procedure the injured party has a better chance at recovering in a malpractice claim or lawsuit. On the other hand, the kiosk at the mall could simply close and disappear leaving an injured person with little recourse.

Should dental boards be allowed to demand to regulate laser teeth whitening and should doctors be able to set their own fees for the cost of these services?

Despite the FDA approval of whitening strips as cosmetics, the NCBDE staunchly opposes non-dentists performing the procedure and turns to the Court for a ruling that this practice should not be completed by any third party who is not a licensed dentist in North Carolina; a ruling in this case could be used as precedent for other states to enact similar regulations to that sought by the NCBDE.

Comments on the law underlying the case plead to the Supreme Court suggest there may be a risk in allowing dentists, and any licensed professional, to be able to solely control the pricing and distribution of services. Justice Samuel Alito stated, “[he was] not attracted to the idea of federal courts looking at state agencies…to determine whether they are really serving the public interest.” In addition, Justice Antonin Scalia stated, “I want a neurologist to decide it.[ii]

As new developments occur in this case, Michael V. Favia & Associates will offer updates. Attorney Michael V. Favia follows news in professional licensing and the firm represents healthcare professionals such as dentists in their professional licensing and practice of services.

Michael V. Favia & Associates are available to help and meet for client consultations with offices conveniently located in the Chicago Loop, Northwest side and suburbs so you can schedule a discrete meeting with an attorney at your convenience and discretion. For more about Michael V. Favia & Associates’ professional licensing work, please visit www.IL-Licensing.com and feel free to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” the firm on Twitter.

[i] Business Insider, A Fight For The Right To Whiten Your Teeth Reaches The Supreme Court, Oct. 18, 2014.

[ii] See article listed above in HNi.

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Pediatric dentist abuses several children and surrenders license and pleads guilty

When licensed professionals face complaints of wrongdoing, they could lose their professional license to practice their craft. Colleagues and patients submit complaints to proper state agencies when they suspect a professional of illegal conduct and bad acts. The Chicago area law firm of Michael V. Favia & Associates frequently shares examples of misconduct, to increase awareness, and urge both the professionals accused of misconduct and people who claim harm, to seek the truth and speak up. The truth, shown by this example from Florida, is that licensed professionals can and do harm their patients. In the current example, a dentist injured several children over many years before he eventually lost his license to practice dentistry.

"WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Former West Palm Beach children's dentist Thomas Floyd has pleaded guilty to charges that he abused a 4-year-old boy he was treating in his office. Floyd was arrested last September by the West Palm Beach Police Department." Read more at http://bit.ly/11NVbbG

“WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Former West Palm Beach children’s dentist Thomas Floyd has pleaded guilty to charges that he abused a 4-year-old boy he was treating in his office. Floyd was arrested last September by the West Palm Beach Police Department.” Read more at http://bit.ly/11NVbbG

Terms of former pediatric dentist Thomas Floyd’s plea agreement includes 150 hours of community service and Floyd’s voluntary surrender of his license to practice dentistry in Florida.

The Findings of Fact by the State of Florida Department of Health tell a chilling tale of abuse of several children in addition to the news article regarding the four-year-old boy who, according to the West Palm Beach police, “suffered swelling, abrasions and bruises on his lips,” while in the care of Dr. Floyd.[i] The State’s Findings of Fact stated in the Order of Emergency Suspension of License[ii] include testimony and direct reports from several victims:

  1.  March 2012: T.R., a 16-year-old boy, raised his hand signaling pain and discomfort during a dental procedure. Dr. Floyd pulled the boy’s hair and shook his head when T.R. continued complaining of pain caused by Dr. Floyd. Eventually the boy jumped out of the chair and left Dr. Floyd’s office with his mother.
  2. February 2012: K.G., a 7-year-old girl, reported that she thought Dr. Floyd tried to kill her, in reports to West Palm Beach police by K.G.’s mother who told authorities that Dr. Floyd stuffed a dental bib in K.G.’s mouth saying, “Shut up, you damn brat.” K.G. was coughing, choking and crying.
  3. November 2011: A concerned mother brought A.S.2, a 7-year-old boy, to Dr. Floyd with a toothache. Dr. Floyd performed fillings and crowns. Just over two weeks later, the boy was in pain and could not open his jaw. His mother called Dr. Floyd’s office but he refused to see A.L. on an emergency basis, and next A.L. was hospitalized with a massive infection.
  4. October 2011: A.L., a 15- or 16-year-old girl went to Dr. Floyd’s office for wisdom tooth extractions. Dr. Floyd refused to take an x-ray or refer to an earlier one and simply began surgery. After unsuccessfully trying to pull a tooth, and with A.L. crying and distraught, Floyd then requested an x-ray.

The Emergency Suspension Order includes further detail of other pediatric dentistry victims and Dr. Floyd’s failure to exercise the professional level of care required by the State of Florida as follows:

  • Controls a child’s crying or squirming by covering the mouth and nose to prevent breathing;
  • Pinches the child’s nose shut forcing the child to open his or her mouth to breathe;
  • Stuffs dental bibs and yells into ears of squirming child to control crying;
  • Pulls the child’s lip over the teeth and holds it with other hand to prevent biting.

If these examples are not enough to cause alarm, the reports mention that: (1) Dr. Floyd has been using these control techniques for 30 years; (2) Dr. Floyd fails to follow sanitation/sterilization guidelines; and (3) The West Palm Beach police received approximately 25 reports about Dr. Floyd since 2006.

Like Florida, Illinois maintains standards for licensed professionals, including dentists. There are reports of good dentists who make mistakes, just as there may be nefarious professionals in our communities. If you become aware of danger to a child in the hands of a professional, you can tell the proper authorities so they may investigate, and if necessary, take action.

If you are a dentist accused of wrongdoing and need advice on what to do in the event you learn of an inquiry regarding your practice, do not panic; Michael V. Favia & Associates offers tips on dealing with the IDFPR located on their Illinois Licensing website. From the website you can also submit your name and email to receive a more detailed article titled, “Summary of the Disciplinary Process and 10 Tips for Responding to an IDFPR Inquiry.”

Michael V. Favia & Associates are available to assist with analysis and advice on a difficult IDFPR matter. With offices conveniently located in the Chicago Loop, Northwest side and suburban meeting locations, you can schedule a discrete meeting with an attorney at your convenience and discretion. For more about Michael V. Favia & Associates’ professional licensing work, please visit www.IL-Licensing.com and feel free to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” the firm on Twitter.


[ii] State of Florida Department of Health, Order of Emergency Suspension of License, In Re: Emergency Suspension of Thomas P. Floyd, DMD.