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Complaints & Investigations

​​Dental patients have the right to receive an appropriate standard of care from their dentist and dental hygienist. As the agency responsible for regulating the dental profession and protecting the public in matters related to dentistry, the Board will investigate complaints and take appropriate action.

Please note that the board's role is to protect public health and safety. As such, we do not become involved in fee disputes between patients and dentists. Complainants should obtain independent legal advice to consider their options for financial restitution.

The Complaint Process

The law requires all dental complaints to be submitted to the Board in writing and signed by the person making the complaint. Additionally, each complaint must identify the specific person or organization against whom the complaint is made. Facts relating to the complaint and supporting documents must be verified as the truth by the signature of the complainant. The complaint must also contain contact information for the individual making the complaint.

Patient complaints received in writing at the Board office will be assigned a case number and will be assigned to a staff investigator. The complaint and findings of fact from the investigation will be reviewed by the Law Enforcement Committee at its next scheduled meeting. If the committee determines that no law has been broken, the complainant will receive notification from the Board.

If the Law Enforcement Committee believes a law may have been broken, the Board can file formal charges against a dentist, dental hygienist, or registered dental assistant, and an administrative hearing may be held. A formal hearing involves lawyers, a court reporter, a hearing officer, and witnesses. If the Board finds that the dentist, dental hygienist, or registered dental assistant has not met the prescribed standard of care and conduct, it has the authority to impose penalties ranging from an agreed order to the suspension or revocation of a license or registration.

Outcome of a Complaint

The complaint process is a detailed and careful one and the complainant should expect some delay. In every case, the dentist, dental hygienist, or registered dental assistant will be informed that a complaint has been filed, the name of the complainant, the disposition of the complaint, and the individual or organization complained about will have the opportunity to respond in writing to the Board.

Not every complaint results in disciplinary action by the Board, particularly if the dentist or dental hygienist has not violated the laws governing dentistry. If charges are filed, an administrative hearing may be held; an administrative hearing is similar to a court trial and is open to the public.

Witnesses and complainants may be subpoenaed to provide testimony regarding the case. In this event, the Board's attorney will provide assistance to witnesses and complainants in preparing for the hearing. If the Board orders a specific sanction, the dentist, dental hygienist, or registered dental assistant has the right to appeal, and the final decision may be delayed in the courts.

Decisions to dismiss or settle cases or propose disciplinary measures are solely the decision of the Board and may be subject to review by the courts.

If the Board files formal charges or takes formal action against a dentist or dental hygienist, those documents will become public record, which can be viewed by any individual upon request. The record may include the written complaint, transcripts or reports of interviews, letters, and other reports. All testimony and evidence admitted in a formal hearing also have the status of a public record. Patient records obtained in the process of the investigation are protected from disclosure as a public record.

Complainants may be kept informed throughout the various stages of the complaint process, and will be advised of the final outcome. However, to protect the integrity of the investigative process, the Board will not release any information or comment on any complaint until it has concluded its investigation.

Patient monetary compensation is not a responsibility of the Board. If complainants are unable to reach an acceptable settlement with a dentist, dental hygienist, and/or their representative, the complainant should seek independent legal advice.

Filing a Complaint

If you decide to file a formal complaint, please complete and sign the official​ Complaint Form, providing as much pertinent information as possible. If necessary, also sign the Medical and Dental Records Release Authorization form to give the Board permission to review your records. Both forms are available in the following document:

Complaint and Medical Release Forms​


Complaints should be mailed to:

Kentucky Board of Dentistry
312 Whittington Pkwy Suite 101
Louisville, KY 40222
Complaints may also be faxed to (502) 429-7282 or emailed to kbd@ky.gov.​

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How do I file a complaint with the Board of Dentistry?
A: Fill out the board's complaint form and, if necessary, the medical records release form, both of which are on our website. Complaints can be submitted to the board office via mail, fax, email, or in person.

Q: Who can file a complaint and who can be the subject of one?
A: State law allows anyone to file a complaint against any person licensed or registered by the Board of Dentistry, which includes dentists, dental hygienists, and dental assistants.

Q: What qualifies as an appropriate complaint?
A: The nature of the complaint must be related to a violation of the Dental Practice Act or a related administrative regulation. This generally involves harm or potential harm to patients due to impairment, recklessness, or poor judgment. 

Q: Can I submit a complaint anonymously?
A: In most cases, no. State law generally requires that complaints be signed by the complainant so the defendant can know their accuser and respond appropriately to the allegations. However, there are exceptions for emergency situations involving alleged infection control violations or impairment of the licensee. The executive director may also file a complaint based on knowledge available to the board. If you have concerns about submitting a signed complaint, please contact the office to discuss your case. 

Q: What is the Law Enforcement Committee (LEC)?
A: The LEC is three member panel of board licensees that formally reviews complaints received by the board. Assisting the LEC are the board's investigators, legal counsel, and Well-Being Committee. The LEC can dismiss a case, propose a settlement agreement, or order an administrative hearing before the rest of the board. 

Q: What is the Well-Being Committee? The Well-Being Committee oversees the intervention, treatment, and rehabilitation of impaired licensees. Impairment involves anything that may negatively affect a licensee's mental or physical ability to safely treat patients, including alcohol or drug abuse, physical or cognitive decline, or illness.

Q: Does the Board investigate financial disputes between patients and providers?
A: Generally, no. Although licensees convicted of financial crimes may be subject to disciplinary action, the board itself only investigates issues related to protecting the health and safety of the public. Billing disputes and other conflicts of a financial nature should be pursued elsewhere, such as in civil court.

Q: What happens after a complaint is submitted?
A: All properly filed complaints will be assigned a case number, thereby opening a formal investigation. The board will then notify the licensee that a complaint has been filed against them and request any relevant medical records or other documents. The licensee will have 20 days to provide the requested information as well as to respond to the specific allegations in the complaint. If necessary, the board can assign an investigator or issue a subpoena to collect further evidence. The Law Enforcement Committee will then consider the case at its next scheduled meeting. Both the licensee and the complainant will be notified of any final decision.

Q: What happens at a Law Enforcement Committee (LEC) meeting?

A: Members of the LEC, along with the board's executive director, legal counsel, investigator and Well-Being Committee, will review the case in advance and then deliberate at the meeting. Witnesses also participate in some cases, while in others, the available documents are sufficient to make a decision. The LEC can either dismiss the case, hold it over to a future meeting to gather more information, propose disciplinary action though a settlement offer, or remand the case to an administrative hearing before the rest of the board.  

Q: How long does a complaint investigation last?

It depends. Much like a court case, a board complaint can remain active for several months. Often, cases are held over to future meetings if additional investigation or testimony is needed. However, most complaints are fully adjudicated within one or two LEC meetings.

Q: Will I be notified of the outcome of the investigation?
A: Yes. Both parties will receive written notice of any final action. However, state law requires Well-Being Committee records to be confidential so some details of impairment-related cases will not be made available to the complainant.

Q: What disciplinary actions can the board take against licensees?
A:  The board's disciplinary powers are limited and must be related to its licensing authority. These actions can include a private or public letter of admonishment, fines, probation, drug testing and monitoring, suspension or limitation of a license or permit, or an outright revocation of a license. Most disciplinary actions become a matter of public record and are reported to the National Practitioner Data Bank.

Q: Can the board issue criminal sentences or order financial restitution?
A: No. These are powers reserved for the criminal and/or civil court system. Any punitive measures imposed by the board are intended solely to protect the public and are independent from the actions of the justice system.

Q: Can disciplinary decisions be appealed?
A: Yes. In most instances, disciplinary actions issued by the LEC must be agreed to by settlement. If an agreement is not reached with the licensee under investigation, the LEC will remand the case to an administrative hearing before the rest of the board. Any final order of the board can be appealed in Circuit Court.     

Q: Should I file a complaint?
A: Ultimately, the decision to file a complaint is up to you. When a licensee—due to impairment, bad judgement, poor competency, or other reasons—practices in a way that poses a risk to public health and safety, a complaint should be filed. Other circumstances, such as personal disagreements or billing disputes, fall outside our regulatory authority. In some cases, civil court is a more appropriate venue for a grievance. Serious criminal violations should be reported to law enforcement immediately.

Q: What should I do if a complaint is filed against me?
A: If you are the recipient of a complaint, you will be notified in writing by the board. Please comply with any requests for information within 20 days. This should include a written response to the allegations in the complaint as well as copies of any relevant records or other documents. When necessary, compliance may be enforced by the board's subpoena authority.

Q: If I receive a complaint, will I need to appear before the Law Enforcement Committee?

A: Possibly. The LEC will determine what documents and/or testimony are needed based on the nature of the complaint. ​