Orthodontist Ben Burris Braces for Fight With Dental Board

by Mark Friedman  on Monday, Sep. 9, 2013 12:00 am  

Ben Burris

A Fort Smith orthodontist is preparing to battle the Arkansas Board of Dental Examiners over allegations that offering dental cleanings might be a violation of a law against practicing outside his specialty.

Dr. Ben Burris said he’s being hauled in front of the board because in June he started offering dental exams for a price that is half of what other dentists in the area charge.

The board has asked Burris to appear before the board later this week to explain his “practice stetting,” said the board’s attorney, Kevin O’Dwyer, a partner in the Little Rock law firm of Hope Trice & O’Dwyer.

“It has been brought to the Board’s attention that you are employing dental hygienists,” the June 26 letter from the board to Burris said. “The Board would like to discuss this matter with you.”

O’Dwyer wouldn’t be more specific about what the board wants to discuss with Burris. But Burris said the board wants to make sure he’s not practicing outside his specialty, which is orthodontics.

“I’m pretty sure it’s an ambush,” Burris said.

Since June, Burris has offered dental cleanings, X-rays and exams for $98 for adults and $68 for children in the five northeast Arkansas clinics that he operates under the name Braces by Burris.

Some of those competitors “have gone absolutely ballistic” over the price and complained to the board, Burris said.

“In Arkansas, there’s an archaic law that says that dental specialists can’t practice outside their specialty,” he said. “So even though I’m a dentist, an orthodontist, it means that I can’t volunteer at the free clinic and pull teeth because it’s against the law.”

Burris said he is licensed as both a dentist and as an orthodontist.

Burris said he started the cleaning service as a way to help patients and to boost business.

“We wanted to make it affordable for people to be able to get their cleaning done more often,” Burris said. “Also, it’s another way for us to get new patients.”



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