AAO Unveils State Advocacy Toolkit Featuring DTC Resources

Posted: September 23, 2021
Edited by Orthotown staff

ST LOUIS, Mo.—The AAO has announced the development of several new resources designed to communicate concerns about direct-to-consumer (DTC) orthodontic treatment and risks to patient health and well-being. These new resources can be found at orthofacts.org and can also be accessed by clicking the “Advocacy Resources” tab at the top of the AAO member webpage. The orthofacts.org web page will be accessible to non-AAO-members, primarily so that dental board members, federal and state legislators, and others outside of AAO members can access the information. 
 
The AAO’s new DTC resources centerpiece is a 25-page position paper setting out the AAO’s concerns with common elements of DTC treatment (such as failing to perform an in-person examination of the patient or failing to take X-ray images before treatment). Although the concerns themselves are not new to AAO messaging, the position paper includes numerous scientific authorities (credible, peer-reviewed evidence and recognized authorities in the specialty) to support the AAO’s positions.

“We are excited to combine the AAO’s advocacy messaging with the strength of the AAO’s scientific and academic resources,” said AAO president Dr. Ken Dillehay. “For the first time, we have a resource that clearly shows that the AAO’s advocacy positions on teledentistry and DTC are supported by strong scientific evidence, which demonstrates why the law should include these patient protections.” 
 
Accompanying the DTC position paper are two “one-pagers” (front-and-back handouts) that summarize the AAO’s positions on in-person examinations and radiographic images and evidence in support.  
 
The new AAO advocacy resources also include two additional resources on DTC concerns. A short handout summarizes testimony by a former DTC treating doctor that recently came to light in a class-action lawsuit. Additionally, a new position paper by the AAO sets out concerns related to informed consent in the DTC treatment setting. Many authorities in the telehealth field (including the American Medical Association and the Joint Commission) question whether a patient can give effective informed consent to treatment if the patient has never had the opportunity to ask questions of the treating doctor. This new AAO resource applies these concerns to the DTC context. 
 
“It is our hope that these new resources will better communicate to dental boards and legislatures the reasons why we believe that the laws need to protect orthodontic patients,” said Dillehay. “We strongly encourage AAO members to utilize these new resources in their efforts to educate lawmakers, patients and the general public.” 
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