Nevada dentists and hygienists risk a license revocation for committing crimes of moral turpitude or unprofessional conduct. Before disciplinary action can be taken, the Nevada State Board of Dental Examiners may hold a disciplinary hearing, which is similar to a trial.
As a dentist or hygienist, you may have an attorney represent you at disciplinary hearings. Depending on the results of the hearing, the Dental Board can impose such sanctions as:
- a reprimand,
- a fine,
- license suspension, or
- license revocation
Practicing dentistry without a license is a crime. 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:
- 1. How does Nevada’s Board of Dental Examiners work?
- 2. Can I apply for a dental license with a criminal record?
- 3. What triggers disciplinary action?
- 4. What is the disciplinary process?
- 5. What happens at a Nevada Dental Board disciplinary hearing?
- 6. Can I go to jail for practicing dentistry without a license?
- 7. Other occupational licenses in Nevada
1. How does Nevada’s Board of Dental Examiners work?
The Nevada State Board of Dental Examiners grants licenses to dentists and dental hygienists to practice in-state. The Board is also responsible for investigating alleged misconduct by licensees and imposing professional discipline.
- 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 dental license if I have a criminal record?
Yes, though the Nevada Dental Board has the discretion to deny licenses if you do not have “good moral character.” Presumably, minor misdemeanors such as traffic tickets or trespass should not disqualify you as long as you completed all your sentencing terms.
Though the Board may be more selective about granting licenses if you have serious felonies on your record.2
3. What triggers disciplinary action?
The Nevada 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
The Board also initiates disciplinary proceedings against dentists and hygienists for “unprofessional conduct.” Ten common examples of unprofessional conduct include:
- Employing, partnering with or associating with an unlicensed dentist or hygienist,
- Practicing on a suspended license or expired license that has not been renewed,
- Malpractice, professional incompetence, or failure to obtain required training,
- A disciplinary action from another state’s dental board,
- More than one act constituting substandard care,
- The unlawful or inappropriate prescribing, administering or dispensing of a schedule II, III, or IV controlled substance,
- Chronic addiction or intoxication, or having gross immorality as tends to bring reproach upon the dental profession,
- False advertising (including using titles to suggest you are part of a public entity, such as “institute” or “clinic”),
- Submitting a false claim for payment, or
- Participating in practice where patients must select a dental provider from a preselected group unless those patients are also offered a plan where they have reasonable opportunity to choose a different dentist. (This act of professional misconduct is not grounds for a dental license revocation but can be grounds for other types of discipline).
Note that it is also unprofessional conduct to get referral fees without the knowledge of the patient or their legal representative.3
4. What is the disciplinary process?
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 you “notice of the verified complaint.”
You then have 15 days to respond to the complaint, though the Board has the discretion to grant you more time. You are encouraged to hire an attorney to help you respond to the complaint.
Then the Board assigns the case to a “Disciplinary Screening Office” (DSO) in order to investigate the matter. The DSO compiles all relevant evidence, including medical/dental records and any prior investigations done against you.
The DSO can decide to remand the complaint and not take any action against you. The remand will stay in your file, however. So if you get another complaint in the future, your prior one may be a factor in the DSO’s decisions.
If the DSO finds an actionable violation happened, it will notify the Review Panel and may recommend either disciplinary action or else corrective action with no discipline.
If the Review Panel finds by a preponderance of the evidence the DSO’s preliminary findings are unsupported by evidence, the case will be remanded with no action.
If the Review Panel finds by a preponderance of the evidence that the DSO’s preliminary findings are supported, the DSO takes over the matter again and may hold an informal hearing or settlement negotiations. (If the Review Panel finds the DSO’s recommendations are inappropriate, it will give its recommendations to the DSO for consideration prior to any proceedings, such as a hearing.)
If you or the Board rejects any stipulated resolution – or if the Board vetoes the “findings and recommendations” you consented to – the Board may file a formal complaint. You have 20 days to answer it or else risk the Board taking your silence as an admission of responsibility.
If the Board schedules a disciplinary hearing (discussed in the next section), you will receive at least 10 days notice of the hearing. You are advised to have an attorney present to represent you.
Note that the Board can summarily suspend your authority to prescribe schedule II drugs, schedule III drugs, or schedule IV drugs pending the outcome of the disciplinary hearing if it determines that you may pose a risk to the public health, safety, or welfare.
After the Board’s final decision, you have 15 days to petition for reconsideration/rehearing or 30 days to petition the local district court for judicial review. Any ensuing district court orders can be appealed to the relevant appellate court.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 your 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 you committed misconduct, you may face any of the following types of disciplinary penalties:
- license suspension;
- license revocation;
- public reprimand;
- a fine;
- community service;
- limitation of your 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)
If the Board suspends your license, you 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?
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
Penalties in Nevada
|1st or 2nd offense||gross misdemeanor: |
|3rd or subsequent offense||category D felony: |
Depending on the case, you may also be assessed an administrative fine of up to $5,000.6
7. Other occupational licenses in Nevada
Nurses and nursing assistants face disciplinary penalties for committing misconduct or certain crimes. Learn more about nursing license revocations and suspensions.
The Nevada Board of Medical Examiners disciplines doctors for committing malpractice, crimes, or other misconduct. Learn more about 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 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 real estate brokers and salespeople.
Lawyers can be disciplined by the Nevada State Bar for committing crimes or violating the Rules of Professional Conduct. Learn more about attorney license disbarment or suspension.
If you are a CPA, you can lose your license for having committed serious crimes or professional misconduct. Learn more in our article about disciplinary proceedings and license suspensions for accountants.
7.7. Social Workers
Social workers face such penalties as fines, reprimands, probation, or license suspension or revocation for committing serious crimes or acting unprofessionally. Go to our article about suspending or revoking a social worker’s licenses in disciplinary hearings.
If you are a Nevada teacher, you can have your 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 teachers.
Call a Nevada criminal defense attorney…
Are you at risk of losing your dental license? Call our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys to talk about your case. 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.
Facing discipline in Colorado? See our article on Colorado disciplinary actions for dentists.
- NRS 631.130. The Nevada Dental Board’s mission statement is “The mission of the Nevada State Board of Dental Examiners is to protect the dental health interest of Nevadans by developing and maintaining programs to: Ensure that only qualified professionals are licensed to practice dentistry and dental hygiene. Ensure that violators of the laws regulating the dental and dental hygiene professions are sanctioned as appropriate.” See also AB 147 (2023). See also AB 503 (2023).
- NRS 631.230.
- NRS 631.344. NRS 631.3475.
- NRS 631.365. NRS 631.363. NRS 631.360; to NRS 631.368; NAC 631.250; Nevada Dental Board Patient Complaint Process. NRS 622.
- NRS 631.350; NRS 631.345.
- NRS 631.400.