Dentists, Orthodontists at Odds Over Ben Burris' Cleanings

by Mark Friedman  on Monday, Sep. 23, 2013 12:00 am  

Ben Burris

As the Arkansas Board of Dental Examiners ponders what to do with the Fort Smith orthodontist who offered dental cleanings to the general public, the case highlights a division between dentists and orthodontists.

As of Wednesday, the dental board still was considering whether Dr. Ben Burris’ actions violated the Dental Practice Act, which prohibits orthodontists and other specialists from practicing outside their specialty, said the board’s attorney, Kevin O’Dwyer. O’Dwyer, a partner in the Little Rock law firm of Hope Trice & O’Dwyer, said he didn’t have a timetable for when a decision will be made.

On Sept. 13, Burris spent about an hour in front of the board explaining that he was offering the service at his five clinics in northeast Arkansas to improve access to care and to help his business.

“I think we need to find out exactly what clinics are involved and maybe get a better picture of what it is that’s going on within the individual clinic settings,” O’Dwyer told Arkansas Business on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Burris stopped offering cleanings as of Sept. 13 in his Braces by Burris orthodontic clinics until the board makes a decision.

If the board charges Burris with a violation of the act and he’s found guilty, O’Dwyer said the possible penalties include a fine, suspension or revocation of his license. Burris’ lawyer, David Glover of Little Rock, declined to comment on the case.

Dentists Complaints

Dentists fired off complaints to the board when they learned that Burris began offering in June dental cleanings and exams to the general public.

“As you well know, specialization of one’s practice assumes that you will practice only that narrowed spectrum of dentistry to which you have advance training,” Dr. James Phillips, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon in Jonesboro and former member of the dental board, wrote in an Aug. 13 email to the board.

The email was available to Arkansas Business under the Freedom of Information Act.

“This concerns many of the area dentists and rightfully so,” Phillips said in the email. “If the Board allows this obvious violation, it will loose [sic] ALL credibility in the NE area.”

Phillips didn’t return a call seeking additional comment.



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