Ben Burris Plans To Challenge Arkansas Dental Practice Act

by Mark Friedman  on Monday, Nov. 4, 2013 12:00 am  

Dr. Ben Burris has agreed not to offer dental cleanings to the public. (Photo by Ashley George)

A Fort Smith orthodontist has agreed not to offer dental cleaning to the general public — at least for now.

Dr. Ben Burris recently told Arkansas Business that his current focus is on changing the state Dental Practice Act to allow him to offer cleanings to the public.

On Thursday, Burris signed a consent order with the Arkansas Board of Dental Examiners to end its inquiry into whether Burris’ actions violated the Dental Practice Act, which prohibits orthodontists and other specialists from practicing outside their specialty.

Matt Wilkins, CEO of Burris’ companies, which includes Braces by Burris, said he and Burris have talked with some national public relations firms, attorneys and political action committees, “and there has been immense interest in trying to change the archaic nature of the Dental Practice Act and do it in Arkansas.”

Wilkins said the consultants are in the process of determining the best way to challenge the act, which would either be through the courts or in the Legislature.

“We are in the early stages of combining the strength, money and talent of specialists all over the country to help us do this,” Wilkins said.

He said he expects the campaign will cost more than $1 million over the course of a few years.

In the meantime, Burris said, he felt he had no choice but to sign the agreement, even though he believes he did nothing wrong.

“It’s incredibly archaic,” he said. “I graduated seventh out of the class of 80 dental students, … and I can’t do the most basic of all dental” procedures? Burris asked. “And, of course, the flip side of this, any dentist with no training at all can do braces.”

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

Wilkins said that if Burris hadn’t signed the consent order, the dental board would have brought charges against Burris and “attacked his specialty license and very likely his Arkansas dental license.”

The dental board’s attorney, Kevin O’Dwyer, who is a partner in the Little Rock law firm of Hope Trice & O’Dwyer, said he didn’t know what the board would have done if Burris hadn’t signed the order.



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