Dentists Unclear on Botox Regulations
In response to my recent survey on Botox, I kept hearing the same question: “How can I find out if I can legally offer Botox?”
Answering that question would be a great editorial, I thought. I imagined a color-coded map of the US showing where dentists could and couldn’t offer Botox.
There is no such map because there is no simple answer to the question. However, there are a few key points I want to highlight.
Anyone who’s offering Botox should have completed a training course. For example, Dentox offers a course that covers the following areas:
- How to treat multiple conditions using Botox hands-on.
- Attendees are invited to co-diagnose and observe the many patients being treated at these meetings.
- How to substitute/eliminate acrylic splints with strategic injections
- Accelerate healing & orthodontics by reducing clenching and preserving freeway space
- Therapies to treat TMD, migraines, gummy smiles
- How to prevent and remedy the most common unwanted side-effects
Botox & TMJ/TMD
Though it’s not right for every patient, Botox is gaining ground as a legitimate treatment option for TMJ disorders. Injections can help minimize muscle tension and soreness in the jaw.
Minimizing Wrinkles with Botox
On the one hand, if you’re already offering Botox for therapeutic reasons, why not make it available for cosmetic reasons as well? It’s safer for the patient than seeing an untrained practitioner, and it’s a great way for dentists to make some extra money without compromising the quality of their care.
On the other hand, it’s easy to see how some would feel that eliminating forehead wrinkles is not fundamentally within the scope of dentistry. It’s a service plastic surgeons should offer, critics argue, not dentists.
I disagree with these critics. I will argue that dentists are equally, if not better, trained than medical doctors in understanding head and neck anatomy. When you combine this with an acute sense of facial aesthetics, dentists are the obvious choice for this type of cosmetic treatment.
A Muddy Situation in the US
Dentists in the US face unclear standards when it comes to offering cosmetic services such as Botox, Restylane, or collagen. Regulations vary by state, and not all states are clear on their rules.
The New York State Dental Association offered this advice to its members:
In June 2002, the State Board for Dentistry passed a motion giving some guidance on the use of botox/collagen stating that, “the use of botulinum Toxin Type A and collagen for dental health related treatment falls within the scope for the practice of dentistry as defined by Section 6601.” This motion, which is not binding, does authorize a dentist to use botox and collagen, but reiterates that such use must be related to a patient’s dental health.
Last year in response to NYSDA’s request for clarification regarding a weight-loss procedure that was marketed to dentists (e.g. dental appliance known as dental diet system), the Office of Professions of the Education Department stated that, “if the purpose of the dental appliance is solely to treat a diet or weight loss condition, it would appear that this would not be within the scope of practice of dentistry as defined in New York. Nonetheless, if the condition is properly diagnosed and a lawful treatment plan is prescribed by a professional authorized to do so, the fitting and attaching of the appliance could very well have dental health implications and a dentist may be involved in those services.”
As with anything, you cannot legally provide such services if they are not within the scope of the New York State Dental Practice Act. For instance, cosmetic facial hair removal is not related to restoring and maintaining dental health and therefore is not within the scope of the practice of dentistry. As with any new product or procedure, do not allow the lure of additional revenue to jeopardize your professional license. If it is not something that you can reasonably argue relates to dental health, it is safe to avoid it.
If you’re not sure whether dentists are permitted to offer (and/or advertise) Botox services in your state, here’s a quick shortcut: do a quick Google search for botox + dentist + [your state]. If Dr. So-and-so offers Botox, you might be able to as well. But if no one in your state is advertising this service, there’s quite likely a reason why.
A Clear Situation for UK Dentists
There is no such legal gray area for dentists in the United Kingdom.
- UK dentists are permitted to offer Botox.
- They are not, however, allowed to market their Botox services alongside their dental expertise.
I’ve gotten some great responses to my survey on dentists and Botox. People have also been interested in what Catherine Maley, our new guest columnist, has to say on the subject. Now I’m hungry for more!
- Dos your state permit dentists to offer Botox?
- Does your state prohibit dentists from offering this service?
- Does your insurance permit you to offer Botox?