SACRAMENTO—Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Silicon Valley) introduced a bill this week that would require dentists to conduct an in-person examination of their patients prior to approving a treatment plan for clear aligners or other orthodontics. The bill would effectively prohibit internet companies from offering direct-to-consumer products to Californians until legislation is passed to inform consumers and establish parameters for how teleorthodontics companies may operate.
“California is proud to be the incubator of innovation—but we cannot sacrifice patient health and safety in exchange for making billionaires out of tech bros,” said Assemblymember Evan Low. “The industry should view AB 1998 as a sign that the Legislature is serious about requiring meaningful safeguards if these questionable and controversial business practices are allowed to continue.”
Numerous issues concerning direct-to-consumer teleorthodontics companies first arose during the Legislature’s sunset review of the Dental Board of California last year, resulting in the passage of a bill establishing basic requirements for patient examination prior to treatment. AB 1998 is intended to further enact comprehensive protections against patient harm in the provision of teleorthodontic services.
Recently, national investigative reports have uncovered questionable conduct by major teleorthodontics companies, and the Dental Board of California has filed multiple accusations against one company’s lead dentist. The American Dental Association has filed a petition with the Food and Drug Administration alleging that these companies place patients at risk by selling aligners with subpar examinations.
In order to ensure that there is broad stakeholder input prior to the enactment of any further changes related to the regulation of self-applied orthodontic treatments administered via telehealth, Assemblymember Low has sent letters to representatives of major teleorthodontics companies, soliciting their input. Assemblymember Low has also stated that he intends to convene an informational hearing to discuss how policymakers should correctly balance patient access and patient safety as emerging telehealth products come to market.
Assemblymember Low is co-founder of the California Legislative Technology and Innovation Caucus and currently serves as Chair of the Assembly Committee on Business and Professions. Each of these leadership positions uniquely qualify the Assemblymember to determine whether the cost and convenience of so-called health care disrupters justify any potential diminishment of consumer protections.