SUMMARY OF: A Sunset Review of the Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development, Board of Dental Examiners, August 5, 2004.

Purpose of the Report

In accordance with Title 24 and Title 44 of the Alaska Statutes, we have reviewed the activities of the Board of Dental Examiners (BDE). As required by state law, the legislative committees of reference are to consider this report when considering whether to extend the termination date for BDE. Currently under AS 08.03.010(c)(7) the board will terminate on June 30, 2005. If the legislature does not extend the termination date for the board, BDE will have one year to conclude its administrative operations.

Report Conclusions

In our opinion, the termination date for the Board of Dental Examiners should be extended. The board is operating in the public interest by effectively regulating the individuals who hold themselves out to the public as licensed dentists and dental hygienists.

The board has adopted regulatory changes and supported legislation that improved the board’s oversight process and has promoted more effective regulation of licensed dentists and dental hygienists.

Alaska Statute 08.03.010(c)(7) requires the Board of Dental Examiners be terminated on June 30, 2005. If the legislature does not extend the termination date, the board will have a one-year “wrap-up” period to administratively conclude its operations. We recommend the legislature extend the termination date of the board until June 30, 2011.

Implementation of our recommendation would require the legislature to exercise some discretion permitted by state law. Alaska Statute 08.03.020(c) provides for the following:

A board scheduled for termination … may be continued or reestablished by the legislature for a period not to exceed four years unless the board is continued or reestablished for a longer period… [emphasis added]

Two factors influence our recommendation that the legislature extend the board to June 30, 2011. First, the board has operated effectively and in the public’s interest over the past four years. Secondly, this extension would work towards smoothing out the number of boards and commissions that come under sunset in a particular year. Typically, there are four to six boards and/or commissions scheduled for a legislative sunset review; however, in 2005 there are 12 boards scheduled for sunset. Nonstandard extension dates will allow for a more even distribution of organizations going through the sunset process in any given year.

Analysis of Public Need

The board licenses applicants in two ways, by examination and by credentials. Licensure by credentials requires that the applicant document their previous work history as a dentist or dental hygienist as basis for receiving a state license to practice. In prior reports we have expressed concerns that licensure by credential has been unnecessarily cumbersome and difficult. The board adopted new and revised old regulations related to licensure by credentials that have made this process less restrictive. Further, the board adopted new regulations that expanded continuing education requirements and provided for the issuance of licenses in a more uniform and consistent manner.

The Board of Dental Examiners supported passage of HB 81 by the 22nd Legislature (Chapter 24 SLA 01) which accomplished changes to several statutes related to dentistry. Two significant changes of particular benefit to the public included:

  • the acceptance of passing scores of an exam administered by the Central Regional Dental Testing Service
  • an increase in the civil fine penalty from $5,000 to $25,000 per violation

Previously, candidates could only qualify for licensure by an exam that was administered by the Western Regional Examining Board. The Central and Western regions agree the exams are comparable, and per legislative testimony there is statistical evidence to support the claim. Additionally, acceptance of another exam benefits the State by reducing barriers to entry for dentists from other states wishing to relocate here. The increase in the civil fine penalty parallels an increase that was also adopted for the Medical Board (included in separate legislation).