Disciplinary Complaints Before the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners

Patient complaints against dentists, dental hygienists, and dental assistants go to the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners (“the Board”) for investigation, assessment, and potential referral for disciplinary proceedings. If you are the subject of a disciplinary complaint before the Board, an experienced dental license defense lawyer can assist you through the investigative process and any disciplinary proceedings that may result. We can explain the full range of available alternatives to resolve your case and work to reach a reasonable outcome before the Board.

Complaint Processing Before the Board

When the Board receives a complaint against a dental professional it licenses and monitors, it performs an initial assessment to determine whether it has jurisdiction over the complaint. Jurisdiction refers to the legal authority of the Board to process, investigate, and take disciplinary action regarding the complaint. 

The Board has jurisdiction over a complaint if:

  • The complaint contains allegations concerning the actions of a dental professional whom it licenses and regulates; and 
  • The information in the complaint is sufficient to allege that the professional violated a rule or law that the Board can enforce.

After its initial evaluation, the Board can dismiss the complaint if it contains insufficient information to determine jurisdiction or whether its allegations are valid. The Board also can dismiss the complaint if it involves an individual or an allegation that falls outside its jurisdiction or if it meets jurisdictional requirements but contains insufficient information to merit further investigation. 

On the other hand, if the complaint falls within the jurisdiction of the Board and contains sufficient information to merit further investigation, the Board will refer it to the Dental Director and/or Director of Investigations.


If the Dental Director and/or Director of Investigations agree that the complaint should proceed for investigation, it assigns the case to Board staff to complete a full investigation. This investigation involves gathering relevant information about the complaint, including patient records, billing records, or correspondence between the parties. Board staff may also interview any parties involved and take other measures to verify the allegations in the complaint. 

Disposition of Complaints

After the full investigation, complaints about patient care proceed to the Dental Review Panel for disposition. That Panel determines whether the dental professional has violated the standard of care. If the Panel finds a violation of the standard of care has occurred, it refers the case to the Legal Division for potential disciplinary action. Likewise, if the Board staff determines that a violation other than patient care has occurred, it refers the case to the Legal Division.

The Legal Division must determine whether the evidence gathered through the full investigation is sufficient to merit disciplinary action. If not, then the Legal Division can dismiss the complaint. 

The Board can also issue a remedial plan to resolve a complaint, a non-disciplinary action under Tex. Occ. Code Sec. 263.0077. Remedial plans contain conditions that licensees must follow for a specified period. Licensees also must pay a $500 fee to implement remedial plans. The Board will monitor a licensee’s compliance with a remedial plan until it is no longer in effect.

Formal Disciplinary Actions

However, if the Legal Division finds sufficient evidence of a more serious violation, it can proceed with formal disciplinary action against the licensee. The Board can often sign an agreement with the licensee to resolve the disciplinary proceedings. However, if the parties cannot reach an agreement, the Board can transfer the case to the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) for a hearing before an administrative law judge. The judge hears the case and issues a proposed order to the Board for approval. Ultimately, the Board must approve and formalize any disciplinary action and sanctions the judge recommends following an administrative hearing. 

Potential Sanctions in Disciplinary Proceedings

If the violation is minor and unrelated to patient care, the Board may assess a small administrative penalty, or a monetary fine. The typical administrative penalty for a first offense is less than $3,000. A second offense can result in an administrative penalty of up to $4,000, and a third or subsequent offense, an administrative penalty of up to $5,000. Certain types of penalties also result in base administrative penalty amounts. However, depending on aggravating and mitigating circumstances, the Board can deviate from these base administrative penalty amounts. 

Additionally, under Tex. Occ. Code Sec. 263.002(a), the Board can take any of the following actions instead of or in addition to assessing an administrative penalty in disciplinary proceedings:

  • Send warning letters;
  • Issue reprimands;
  • Impose fines;
  • Suspend licenses;
  • Probate licenses with conditions; and 
  • Revoke licenses.

The Board also publishes a list of common violations and the recommended sanction for those violations. All violations are classified as first-, second-, or third-tier violations. Of course, the Board may deviate from those sanctions, based on the circumstances. 

Learn More About Defending Your Dental License Today 

Do not hesitate to get legal assistance if you are facing potential disciplinary action against your dental license. Retaining the services of legal counsel from the beginning of any Board investigation concerning your practice can be key to a more successful outcome in your case. Contact a Texas dental license defense attorney immediately if you receive or anticipate receiving notice of disciplinary proceedings.

Call or text (512) 476-5757 or complete a Case Evaluation form