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Licensed Dentist Attacked For Charging Too Little.

According to our friends at the Institute for Justice, Arkansas orthodontist Dr. Ben Burris has run afoul of the Arkansas State Board of Dental Examiners for not charging enough.

Burris has what can be considered a highly successful practice with 10 locations throughout the state of Arkansas. In addition, in 2008, Burns founded “Smile for a Lifetime Foundation.”

In 2008, Ben created Smile for a Lifetime Foundation to provide Orthodontic Scholarships for those in desperate need of braces who could not otherwise afford them. S4L.org is now the largest provider of pro bono orthodontic care in North America with almost 150 chapters in the US and Canada. S4L currently gives away over $6,000,000.00 dollars in Orthodontic Scholarships annually and continues to grow thanks to the generosity and dedication of fellow orthodontists.

So what has Burris done that has him in hot water?

In 2013 Dr. Ben Burris ran afoul of Arkansas’ law when he started offering low-cost teeth cleanings at his orthodontic offices. Ben’s practice Braces By Burris has 11 offices around the state. In part because of his success Ben feels a strong need to give back to the community so he started offering simple teeth cleanings for $99 for adults and $69 for kids, a fraction of what other dentists charge for the same service. He saw the program as a great way to expand access to care for Arkansans.

Within weeks, Ben was told by the Arkansas State Board of Dental Examiners that he was breaking the law and that his license would be revoked if he continued offering the cleanings. Arkansas prohibits licensed dental specialists like orthodontists from doing work outside of their specialty even though they are qualified to practice general dentistry.

The Institute for Justice issued a press release stating, in part:

The Dental Board is going after me because I want to shake up an industry that desperately needs innovation,” said Burris. “As a dentist, I took an oath to help people, and offering top-notch dental care at an affordable price is how I want to do that. I should not be punished because I chose to get a specialty license. I have the capacity, qualifications and ability to help people, but I am being denied the opportunity to give back.”

The only reason the Board is enforcing this law against Dr. Ben is to protect their own pocketbooks. Restrictions on who can provide dental care raise the price of that care by an estimated 12 percent nationwide. And there is ample evidence that many of these restrictions do nothing to protect consumers.

“Seven other states have laws like this one,” said [Matt Miller, lead attorney on the case and executive director of IJ’s Texas Chapter.] “Across the country, qualified people are being prevented from offering dental services because of outdated laws that needlessly restrict access to care. Winning this case will mean other entrepreneurs like Dr. Ben will have the freedom to bring innovative changes to their field.”

It is beyond comprehension that the Arkansas State Board of Dental Examiners would be taking the position that a person who is qualified – more than qualified – to perform teeth cleanings has to be stopped. We have written before concerning the idea that too often the government or some regulatory association feels they have the right to tell you what you can and cannot do with your own experience, time and labor when there is no risk of harm to the people who contract a person’s services.

So who benefits from these licensing groups? Who is harmed?

When you answer those questions, you know the real reason why the Arkansas State Board of Dental Examiners is seeking to prevent Dr. Burris from helping others.



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