The list of “unprofessional conduct” outlined in California law is quite lengthy, and does not encompass every potential action that might result in a license suspension or revocation. Among the provided examples is a section regarding “excessive” behaviors. This can include the excessive administration or prescribing of drugs, excessive use of diagnostic procedures, or excessive use of diagnostic or treatment facilities.

What this part of the law does not directly explain, however, is how “excessive” is actually defined. It only offers this description: “as determined by the customary practice and standards of the dental profession.”

Understanding the standard of care

The standard of care does not have a preset definition. As the California Dental Association explains, it is a relative term that is not specifically established by a state statute or professional literature. Instead, it is about looking at a dental professional’s conduct in context.

Essentially, the standard of care is what a reasonable dentist in the same or similar circumstances would have done. This can be applied to general dentistry, or to specialist procedures.

The standard of care is somewhat fluid. It can shift and evolve as time goes on, with updated knowledge leading to new, better practices.

Dental Board investigations

When the Dental Board receives a complaint about a licensee, it follows a specific investigative process. For serious allegations, this includes the use of an investigator who will gather additional evidence and information.

It is hard, however, to recreate specific situations and moments. No two mouths are the same. As a dentist, you know your patients and their dental history better than anyone. Even if other dental professionals help review your case, it’s not always possible for them to understand the full scope of the situation, with all its nuances. One patient may be an outlier and present some unique challenges that require additional steps.

A negative finding against you can result in serious repercussions. That includes not just a license suspension or revocation, but potentially a criminal fine and prison time. Defending your actions and protecting your livelihood in the face of a complaint are vital.