When can the Nevada Dental Board impose discipline and suspend your license?


Nevada dentists and hygienists risk losing their license for committing crimes of moral turpitude or unprofessional conduct. Before disciplinary action can be taken, the Nevada State Board of Dental Examiners must hold a disciplinary hearing, which is similar to a trial.  

Dentists and hygienists may have an attorney represent them at disciplinary hearings. Depending on the results of the hearing, the Dental Board can impose such penalties as:

  • a reprimand,
  • a fine,
  • probation,
  • license suspension, or
  • license revocation

People accused of practicing dentistry without a license also face criminal prosecution. A first-time offense is a gross misdemeanor, carrying nearly a year in jail up to $2,000 in fines. 

In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys discuss:

One dentist and two hygienists
Dentists and hygienists may lose their Nevada licenses if they get convicted of crimes of moral turpitude.

1. How does Nevada's Board of Dental Examiners work?

The Nevada State Board of Dental Examiners grants licenses to dentists and dental hygienists so they may practice in-state. The Board is also responsible for investigating alleged misconduct by licensees and imposing discipline.

The members of the Board include the following 11 Nevada Governor appointees:

  • 6 dentists,
  • 1 representative of dental care providers for the poor,
  • 3 dental hygienists, and
  • 1 non-dentist/hygienist to represent the general public

Dentists and hygienists must have been practicing in Nevada for at least five years in order to be eligible as a Board member. The Board convenes every month or so, and it posts the meeting agendas and minutes (including disciplinary procedures) online.1

2. Can I apply for a Nevada dental license if I have a criminal record?

male dentist
The Nevada Dental Board may deny licenses to applicants convicted of serious crimes.

Yes, though the Dental Board has the discretion to deny licenses to applicants for not having "good moral character." Presumably, minor misdemeanors such as traffic tickets or trespass should not disqualify applicants as long as they completed all their sentencing terms. But the Board may be more selective about granting licenses to people with serious felonies on their record.2

3. What crimes or misconduct can trigger disciplinary action against me by the Nevada Dental Board?

The Dental Board may initiate disciplinary proceedings against dentists and hygienists for criminal convictions of a crime of moral turpitude. Moral turpitude typically comprises crimes of violence, crimes of fraud in Nevada, or theft crimes in Nevada.

The Board also initiates disciplinary proceedings against dentists and hygienists for "unprofessional conduct." Ten common examples of unprofessional conduct include:

  1. Employing an unlicensed dentist or hygienist,
  2. Practicing on a suspended license,
  3. Malpractice,
  4. Professional incompetence,
  5. More than one act constituting substandard care,
  6. Prescribing drugs unlawfully,
  7. Chronic addiction or intoxication,
  8. False advertising,
  9. Submitting a false claim for payment, or
  10. Failure to obtain required training

Note that it is also unprofessional conduct to get referral fees without the knowledge of the patient or his/her legal representative.3

4. What happens if there is a complaint made against me to the Nevada Dental Board?

Members of the general public may file an informal complaint against Nevada dentists or hygienists. If the Board believes there is a factual basis for the complaint, it will give the licensee "notice of the verified complaint."

female dentist
The Nevada Dental Board investigates patient complaints against dentists.

The licensee then has 15 days to respond to the complaint, though the Board has the discretion to grant the licensee more time. Licensees are encouraged to hire an attorney to help them respond to the complaint.

Then the Board then assigns the case to a "Disciplinary Screening Office" (DSO) in order to investigate the matter. If the Board determines that the licensee may have committed misconduct, it will schedule a disciplinary hearing. The licensee will receive at least 10 days notice of the hearing.

Note that the Board can summarily suspend a licensee's authority to prescribe schedule II drugs, schedule III drugs, or schedule IV drugs pending the outcome of the disciplinary hearing if it determines that the licensee may pose a risk to the public health, safety, or welfare.4

5. What happens at a Nevada Dental Board disciplinary hearing?

A Nevada Dental Board disciplinary hearing is an administrative version of a trial. Both the Board and the licensee's defense attorney may advance arguments, present evidence, call witnesses, and cross-examine each other's witnesses...

If the Board ultimately determines "by a preponderance of the evidence" that the licensee committed misconduct, the licensee may face any of the following types of disciplinary penalties:

  • license suspension;
  • license revocation;
  • probation;
  • public reprimand;
  • a fine;
  • community service;
  • limitation of the person's practice;
  • requirement to complete rehab;
  • supervised practice;
  • a mental, physical, or competency examination;
  • educational classes or training; and/or
  • a requirement to reimburse the patient(s)
male dentists
The Dental Board administers discipline, which may include license revocation.

If the Board suspends the person's license, the licensee will need to pay a $500 fee to reinstate the license once the suspension period is over.5

6. Can I go to jail for practicing dentistry without a license in Nevada?

It is possible, though the defense attorney may be able to persuade the prosecutor to plea bargain the charge down to a lesser offense or possibly a dismissal. Otherwise, the punishment is as follows:

Practicing Dentistry without a License in Nevada

Penalties

1st or 2nd offense

gross misdemeanor:

  • up to 364 days in jail, and/or
  • up to $2,000 in fines

3rd or subsequent offense

category D felony:

Depending on the case, the defendant may also be assessed an administrative fine of up to $5,000.6


7. Other occupational licenses in Nevada

7.1. Nursing

Nurses and nursing assistants face disciplinary penalties for committing misconduct or certain crimes. Learn more about Nevada nursing license revocations and suspensions.

7.2. Doctors

The Nevada Board of Medical Examiners disciplines doctors for committing malpractice, crimes, or other misconduct. Learn more about Nevada medical license revocations and suspensions.

7.3. Contractors (Builders)

Licensed contractors risk disciplinary actions for doing substandard work or committing crimes. Learn more in our article on disciplinary proceedings and license revocations for Nevada contractors.

7.4. Real Estate Brokers and Salespeople

Real estate salespeople and brokers can be disciplined for violating the standards set forth by the Nevada Real Estate Commission. Learn more in our article on disciplinary proceedings and license revocations for Nevada real estate brokers and salespeople.

7.5. Attorneys

Lawyers can be disciplined by the Nevada State Bar for committing crimes or violating the Rules of Professional Conduct. Learn more about Nevada attorney license disbarment or suspension.

7.6. Accountants

CPAs can lose their licenses for having committed serious crimes or professional misconduct. Learn more in our article about disciplinary proceedings and license suspensions for Nevada accountants.

7.7. Social Workers

Social workers face such penalties as fines, reprimands, probation, or license suspension or revocation if they commit serious crimes of act unprofessionally. Go to our article about suspending or revoking social worker's licenses in Nevada disciplinary hearings.

7.8 Teachers

Nevada teachers can have their license revoked or suspended for getting convicted of felonies, crimes involving moral turpitude, or sex offenses with pupils. Go to our article about disciplinary actions against Nevada teachers.

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Call our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys at 702-DEFENSE for a FREE consultation.

Call a Nevada criminal defense attorney...

Are you at risk of losing your dental license? Call our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) to talk about your case free of charge. We will do everything so you can keep your license and your livelihood.

Facing discipline in California? See our article on California disciplinary actions for dentists.


Legal References:

  1. NRS 631.130.
  2. NRS 631.230. 
  3. NRS 631.3475.
  4. NRS 631.365; NRS 631.360; Nevada Dental Board Patient Complaint Process.
  5. NRS 631.350; NRS 631.345.
  6. NRS 631.400.

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