Dentists in Illinois are a critical piece of the healthcare puzzle. Considering the direct connection between your oral health, self-image, and overall health, it is no surprise that dentists undergo years of schooling and lengthy training before practicing without limits.
Yet, after completing their schooling (often taking on significant debt to do so), paying their fees, completing their training, and reaching the status of practicing dentist, many professionals face unexpected challenges to their licenses. Accusations of unprofessionalism, inappropriate behavior, and improper diagnostic or treatment recommendations are among the countless allegations that can put a dentist's license in jeopardy.
It does not matter whether you operate a large dental practice in Chicago or a modest, family-focused operation in Joliet. If you are facing possible sanctions from the Illinois Board of Dentistry, you need a capable defense. A Professional License Defense Attorney from the Lento Law Firm Team can provide that defense.
What Organization Enforces Dentist Licensure Issues in Illinois?
The Illinois State Board of Dentistry oversees enforcement of the Dental Practice Act. This Board falls under the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR), which is responsible for licensing and regulating many professions (including dentistry) in Illinois.
Section 225 ILCS § 25/5 of the Illinois Dental Practice Act grants broad authority to the IDFPR, including the power to:
- Examine dental license applicants and determine their fitness to move forth in the licensing process
- Determine the proper method for examining dental license candidates
- Determine which organizations have accreditation to train dental students in Illinois
- Oversee hearings centered on the possible issuance, suspension, or revocation of dental licenses
In other words, the IDFPR (and its dental arm, the Illinois State Board of Dentistry) is the end-all, be-all when it comes to obtaining and maintaining your dental license in Illinois. If you face problems in obtaining or keeping your dental license, there is a great likelihood you will deal with one or both of these organizations.
What authority Does the Illinois Board of Dentistry Have in Terms of License Denial, Suspension, or Revocation?
The Illinois Dental Practice Act grants the IDFPR sole discretion over your ability to practice as a dentist in Illinois. 225 ILCS § 25/23 of the Act states that the IDFPR can:
- Refuse to issue a dental license
- Refuse to renew a dental license
- Revoke a dental license
- Suspend a dental license
- Place a dentist on probation
- Reprimand the dentist
- Fine the dentist up to $10,000 per violation of the Dental Practice Act
- "Take other disciplinary or no-disciplinary action as the Department may deem proper."
Even a formal reprimand (the lowest rung on the disciplinary ladder) can have significant detrimental effects. If someone faces the decision to hire you or another dentist or to refer clients to your practice or another, a formal reprimand could make the difference.
The Illinois State Board of Dentistry Plays a Key Role in Disciplinary Cases
One of the Illinois State Board of Dentistry's duties is to conduct formal disciplinary proceedings that fall under the purview of the Dental Practice Act. The Board consists of:
- Eleven total members appointed by the Secretary of the IDFPR
- Eight licensed dentists
- Two licensed dental hygienists
- One "public member."
After completing the adjudication process, the Board will make a recommendation to the Secretary of the IDFPR. While the Secretary may have the authority to deviate from the recommendation, they may more likely follow the Illinois Board of Dentistry's guidance—after all, the Secretary appoints the Board members.
Consider That Illinois' Regulators Do Not Always Exercise Authority Properly—You Need a Capable Defense
We often encounter professionals who are not overly concerned with pending disciplinary proceedings. They have a reasonable line of thinking: I'm not responsible for the allegations against me, so the truth will ultimately lead to my exoneration—therefore, my reputation and license aren't truly in danger.
Never assume that the truth alone will ensure a just outcome to your dental disciplinary proceedings. Adjudicative bodies may err in their rulings because:
- One or more Board members have a bias against the dentist who faces sanctions
- The Board or Secretary lacks complete information about the allegations in question
- The Board or Secretary has received incorrect or intentionally deceptive information
- The dentist facing sanctions does not receive the due process they are entitled to
When you are accused of any wrongdoing that triggers a formal adjudication process, take the allegations seriously. Seemingly frivolous or baseless accusations can have real (and potentially devastating) consequences.
The Illinois State Board of Dentistry Is Not Bluffing
Each month, the IDFPR publishes a new list of dentists (and other professionals) who have suffered sanctions. In July 2023 alone, five dentists in Illinois and its sister states:
- Suffered formal reprimands
- Had their renewal application denied
- Had their license suspended
Alleged offenses ranged from failure to pay state income tax to irregular billing practices and substandard dental care. Who is to say whether these allegations had merit? It is only clear that these dentists failed to defend their licenses effectively and now face serious consequences as a result.
What Grounds Does the Illinois Board of Dentistry Have for Sanctioning a Dentist?
The IDFPR or Illinois Board of Dentistry may enact sanctions against a non-responsible dentist accused of:
- Misrepresenting themselves during the license acquisition or renewal process
- Failing to exercise the judgment, skill, or safety necessary to practice dentistry safely and effectively
- Using drugs or alcohol in a way that compromises patient safety
- Violating rules set by the Department of Public Health or Department of Nuclear Safety
- Accepting illegal or inappropriate payment for dental services
- Illegally accepting or paying fees for patient referrals
- Employing unlicensed individuals to conduct dental activities that require a license
- Illegally lending one's name or services to another business
- Engaging in fraud or deceit for financial or professional gain
- Practicing under a false or assumed name
This is an abbreviated version of a long list of offenses. As professionals in Illinois know, the state's rules and regulations are dense, providing near-endless opportunities for dentists to be accused of wrongdoing.
Your right to due process is solidified by Illinois law. Though the regulatory landscape in the state can seem like a minefield, nobody can take away your right to a fair hearing and appeal (if one is necessary).
The Adjudication Process for Illinois Nurses Accused of Wrongdoing
225 ILCS 25/25 details the timeline that unfolds after the IDFPR receives a "verified complaint in writing" against a dentist, and this timeline includes:
Providing the Dentist in Question Notice of the Complaint
Before proceeding with an investigation, the investigator overseeing your case will:
- Notify you of the complaint
- Explain the details of the complaint
- Explain that you have the right to retain an attorney and do not need to give any immediate statements.
- Explain that the IDFPR may proceed with the investigation even without taking a statement from the dentist.
It is critical that you retain an attorney from the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team as soon as possible. The IDFPR (or the Board of Dentistry) may be actively investigating you, and we will ensure that the investigation follows all tenets of due process.
Investigation of the Complaint (Including an Interview with the Dentist)
The investigator appointed by the IDFPR may:
- Take statements from the dentist, complainant, and anyone else involved in the case
- Inspect a dentist's premises during business hours (without disturbing patients)
- Take any other legal steps necessary to reach an informed conclusion about a complaint
The investigator must have a subpoena to review certain aspects of a dental practice, such as personnel records. Our firm will ensure that the investigator remains within legal guardrails.
Hearing or Informal Conference
Following the investigation, the IDFPR or Board of Dentistry will determine whether there are grounds to proceed further with the complaint. If so, authorities will either:
- Schedule a hearing and grant you 30 days notice of the hearing.
- Request that you attend an informal conference, at which time you may negotiate a consent order to resolve the disciplinary matter.
You are allowed to have your attorney at both hearings and informal conferences. Our legal team will prepare you for every aspect of the disciplinary process. The hearing will likely include the presentation and questioning of witnesses, oral arguments, and the issuance of a ruling.
If we need to file an appeal of an adverse ruling, we will. Appeals processes are often time-sensitive, so our team will prepare for the possibility of an appeal even before the hearing process begins.
The IDFPR Faces a Deadline for Investigating Complaints
The IDFPR can initiate an investigation of a complaint no more than five years following the receipt of the complaint. This serves as a sort of statute of limitations, and we may contest the adjudication process if the statute of limitations has expired in your case.
Note that there are several circumstances in which the Secretary of the IDFPR may take disciplinary action without a hearing, though these circumstances may be relatively rare. Even in these cases, 225 ILCS 25/23a generally requires that the Secretary grants a hearing within 15 days of the license suspension.
A Professional License Defense Attorney from our firm will work to ensure you receive the hearing you are entitled to under Illinois law.
Should I Hire a Professional License Defense Attorney?
Dentists facing disciplinary proceedings in Illinois often hire attorneys because:
- There is much to lose, possibly including your license to practice dentistry and earn a living
- Preparing oneself for complex disciplinary proceedings is often impractical, especially considering the many obligations that dentists manage on a daily basis
- One of our attorney's experience and knowledge of dental license defense may provide priceless value to your defense
- An attorney from our team provides insight and perspective you may find valuable, especially during a time when you likely face great stress
Facing license-related sanctions can have both immediate and long-term consequences, and those consequences may be severe. From losing your income to placing your loved ones under financial uncertainty, the stakes of your license defense could not be greater.
Why the Lento Law Firm May Be the Right Choice for Your Illinois License Defense
The Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team is prepared to help you today. Consider hiring an attorney from our team because:
- Professional license defense is what we do: We have helped countless professionals retain their licenses in the most challenging circumstances. Our attorneys have dedicated their professional lives to defending other professionals, and it shows in our case results.
- We know Illinois' laws and procedures: Our attorneys and paralegals are familiar with professional statutes specific to Illinois. We won't waste time in mounting your defense because we already know the law.
- We use tact to protect our clients: Rather than taking an unnecessarily combative stance with regulators, we work with those who hold your professional future in their hands. We fight relentlessly for our clients' licenses and reputations, but our only goal is securing the best possible outcome for you.
- We have the resources your defense requires: Our nationwide legal network affords us the resources every client deserves.
When your license is at stake, you deserve a legal team whose focus is on professional license defense. Look no further than the Lento Law Firm Team.
We Represent Dentists Throughout Illinois—Here Is What We Will Do for You
Our firm serves dentists facing the threat of sanctions, regardless of where you are located in Illinois. Whether you are in one of the state's larger cities (Chicago, Aurora, Joliet, Naperville, Rockford, Elgin, Springfield, Peoria, Waukegan, Champaign, and the like) or smaller communities, we will represent you as if our own license was at stake.
Call the Lento Law Firm Today to Discuss Our Professional License Defense Services
Do not wait to hire an attorney from our firm, who will begin building your license defense case today. Call the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team today at 888-535-3686 or contact us online.