Texas Board Says It’s Falling Short in Regulating Bad Dentists

I like my dentist. And one of my best friends is a dentist. But this article in the Dallas Morning News makes me wonder about the degree of oversight exerted by the state agency responsible for licensing and regulating dentists. The bottom line, according to the article, is that oversight is poor at best. Here are the opening paragraphs:

The agency that polices Texas dentists told lawmakers that it doesn’t have enough resources or legal authority to crack down on careless and abusive dentists.

An advocacy group led the charge against the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners, telling a legislative panel that the regulatory board doesn’t do enough to discipline bad dentists or alert the public which dentists have been sanctioned.

“We’ve found [the] board to be resistant, abusive, arrogant toward the public and unwilling to make changes needed to protect public safety and health,” said Gwen Mitchell, president of Houston-based Texans for Dental Reform. “The consensus is that it only has one agenda, and that is to protect its own.”

The board, which oversees 15,000 dentists, 32,000 dental assistants and 12,000 hygienists, has long been dogged by complaints of shoddy oversight that leaves patients suffering and dentists unaccountable.

In response at the House Public Health Committee hearing, board leaders said the agency needs more funding and staff to keep up with the demands of approving licenses and reviewing the 500 to 600 cases it gets each year.

They can range from pulling the wrong teeth to injuring a patient, from abusing drugs to sexually assaulting a patient.

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