Dental Specialties Court Ruling

US Court Austin Dental Specialties Ruling

United States District Court Sets Precedent Allowing Dentists To Advertise “Dental Specialties”

On Thursday, the United States District Court of the Western Division of Texas (Austin Division) made a ruling that not only protects the First Amendment but also shapes the future for dentists across the country. The ruling will allow dentists, who have the appropriate training, to advertise as “specialists” in the area of implantology, anesthesia, and other non-American Dental Association (ADA) specialties. By advertising such specialties, dentists are engaging in truthful, yet non-misleading commercial speech.US Court Austin Dental Specialties Ruling

This court decision began with Drs. Jay E. Elliott and Monty Buck, plaintiffs, being prohibited from advertising as implant specialists because the ADA does not recognize implantology as a specialty, even though both doctors received additional training and education from the American Academy of Implant Dentistry (AAID). Other supporting plaintiffs were the American Society of Dentist Anesthesiologists (ASDA), the American Academy of Oral Medicine (AAOM), the American Academy of Orofacial Pain (AAOP), and three private dentists.

Past president of the ASDA, Dr. Michael Mashini, DDS (2016) issued this statement in response to the court’s ruling:

As a dentist anesthesiologist, this decision allows me to advertise truthfully about my training, education, and experience. Every state mandates additional post-graduate training to provide general anesthesia, yet restricts me from advertising as a specialist in anesthesia solely because the American Dental Association does not recognize anesthesia as a specialty. The recently formed American Board of Dental Specialties (ABDS) has approved anesthesia as a specialty based on training and testing validated by the American Dental Board of Anesthesiology. This decision will allow all dental specialties to advertise truthfully without limitations by the American Dental Association.Dr. Michael Mashini, DDS

The ADA, defendants, were unable to produce evidence showing that the plaintiffs were unrecognized, or illegitimate because that simply is not the case. The court was not impressed with the case set forth by representatives of the ADA. This ruling is also significant in that it weakens the ADA’s scope of authority. The ADA is one of the nation’s largest, most prominent associations in America, and is the leader in providing a wealth of oral health information to both dentists and patients.


Davis, DDS, M. W. (2016). United States District Court ruling sets stage for expansion of ‘dental specialties’, practitioner independence from ADA restrictions. Retrieved from

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