Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

Dental love

The dankprofessor believes that few people find dentistry very sexy.  And most states have laws on the books that regulate and discipline dentists who might engage in sexual misconduct and exploitation of a patient.  

But now the State of Pennsylvania has taken their dental regulations into never never land.  The State has barred romance in the dental chair.

Dentists who find their perfect love match sitting in the patients’ chair must end the professional relationship and wait a few months before dating, according to new state regulations.
The new rules say that any sexual conduct – even consensual contact – with a current patient, including “words, gestures or expressions, actions or any combination thereof,” is subject to disciplinary action by the State Board of Dentistry. The regulations will apply to dentists, hygienists and other state-licensed dental practitioners engaged in sexual conduct with patients they have treated within the past three months. There are exceptions for relationships in which the patient is a
spouse or a lives with the employee.

Of course, the Pennsylvania Dental Association is opposed to these prohibitions.

The (association) feels that a normal, healthy, romantic relationship between a dentist and a patient, with mutual consent, does not constitute sexual misconduct,” said Philadelphia dentist Dr. Thomas Gamba, the association’s president.

In defending these new regulations, “the board did not cite any specific incidents or complaints, but said its proposal “will protect consumers … and provide clear guidance to practitioners that sexual misconduct is considered unprofessional conduct.”   The Board also stated “that it decided not to allow exceptions for relationships other than ones involving marriage or cohabitation because doing so would make the rules more difficult to enforce.”

Of course, the dankprofessor has heard this all before.  Nothing really new here.  Once again we have the conflating of a consensual sexual relationship with sexual misconduct.  We have the campus feminist chant that differential power precludes consent dressed up in a dental garb. 

Except it becomes OK if dentist and patient get married or live together.  And as for the Dental Board’s assertion that their rules become too difficult to enforce if dentist and patient are married, the fact of the matter is that prohibitions against sexual relationships between consenting adults are never easy to enforce.

No matter what the Board states or requires, dental hygiene is not mental hygiene as in psychotherapy and does not merit the attention of the state.

In opposition to theses rules, Dr. Thomas Gamba stated-

The rules also could hamper the association’s efforts to encourage young dentists to relocate to underserved rural communities. We have a promotion to young dentists to consider Pennsylvania, and rural Pennsylvania.  We have to give them incentives to come here.

Absolutely correct.  And let us not forget that for those who are dentally attracted, such couples who do affiliate engage in significantly higher frequencies of flossing than non-dental couples although in time flossing frequency does decline for the dental couples.

October 21, 2008 - Posted by | consensual relationships, dating, dental, fraternization, sex, sexual politics

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