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Wednesday, January 8, 2014
Finley Boyle Tragedy Exposes Danger of Primary Care Dentists Operating as Pediatric Dental Specialists
By News Release @ 1:06 PM :: 6928 Views :: Health Care

Leading Orthodontist Calls On Hawaii Board Of Dental Examiners To Accept Liability In Finley Boyle Tragedy

-Dr. Ben Burris, DDS, MDS Leading Nationwide Campaign to Heighten Licensure, Disclosure Requirements on Primary Care Dentists Masquerading as Dental Specialists-

By Dr. Ben Burris , Jan. 8, 2014

Following the tragic death of Finley Boyle, a 3-year old girl in Hawaii who passed away after a Primary Care Dentist attempted to perform advanced procedures and sedation on a child despite having no formal training to do so, Dr. Ben Burris today lambasted the Hawaii Board of Dental Examiners for gross negligence in allowing the dentist to blatantly and irresponsibly mislead the public.

Contrary to what its name implies, Dr. Lilly Geyer practiced at "Island Dentistry for Children," – Dr. Geyer is not a dental specialist nor do any pediatric dentists provide service there. Dr. Geyer, who has been charged with Boyle's death, did not complete the advanced education and accredited residency program required of those specialists licensed in pediatric dentistry. This specialization and licensure requires the successful completion of a full-time two-year postgraduate residency after exemplary performance in dental school. Accredited residency programs accept an extremely limited number of applicants and are highly competitive; thus, only the most qualified dental students and dentists are accepted.

Though the name of Dr. Geyer's practice misled parents into thinking she was an expert in treating children, she did not have even have the most basic monitoring equipment or emergency procedures required of specialists. From the accounts available, it appears that in her attempt to perform advanced dental procedures, she irresponsibly sedated innocent children with tragic results.

"While the Primary Care Dentist who performed the procedure is the defendant in the lawsuit filed by Finley's family, she is not the only one at fault," said Dr. Burris. "The Hawaii Board of Dental Examiners shares in the responsibility for allowing a PCD to deceive the public into believing she is a Dental Specialist."

"By allowing Dr. Geyer to name her practice 'Island Dentistry for Children,' the Hawaii state dental board gave Dr. Geyer tacit permission to present herself as an expert in providing care for and treatment to children – which is far from the truth. Parents thus unknowingly subjected their children to amateurs performing complex procedures and sedation without the appropriate education, experience, equipment or qualifications to do so."

Dr. Burris – founder of the nation's largest privately held orthodontics practice –spearheaded the national I Choose My Smiles campaign in November 2013 to educate the public on these very issues.

"With a name like 'Island Dentistry for Children,' how was the child's mother supposed to know that Dr. Geyer was not a Pediatric Dentist and was wholly unqualified to perform such a complex procedure?" Burris continued. "This misleading of the public is a gross and tragic negligence that also rests squarely on the Board's shoulders."

"This most recent tragedy illustrates a growing problem in America today, as more and more Primary Care Dentists masquerade as specialists without disclosing their lack of qualifications to the patients they serve. Just like going to a Primary Care Physician for a heart transplant, going to a Primary Care Dentist for a specialty procedure can have disastrous results."

"Unfortunately, the tragic events in Hawaii illustrate all too well the heartbreaking consequences that the negligence of PCDs and State Dental Boards can have. Healthcare should not be provided on a 'Buyer Beware' basis and every State Dental Board and dental provider across the country has a responsibility to disclose their level of education and expertise. Informed consent is required before performing treatment and knowing exactly who is doing the work is a big part of that."

In November, Burris founded Orthodontists for Access and launched the I Choose My Smiles campaign to increase access to quality care, improve affordability, and educate the public on the risks inherent in Primary Care Dentists experimenting on the public while claiming to be qualified to practice specialty procedures. In recent years, this has become a particularly significant problem as an increasing number of PCDs are applying braces, performing oral surgery, practicing on young children, and undertaking other specialty procedures without the qualifications to do so and without disclosing their shortcomings. Hypocritically, the majority of Primary Care Dentists ensure that when their child needs a specialty procedure, he or she sees a specialist regardless of how many times the PCD in question has performed it.


Dr. Burris has written extensively on this subject, with opinion columns most recently in The Hill and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

More information is available at

About Dr. Ben Burris Dr. Ben Burris, DDS, MDS, is the founder of the largest privately-held orthodontics practice in North America and spearhead of the nationwide I Choose My Smiles campaign – intended to heighten the disclosure requirements for Primary Care Dentists who provide specialized procedures without the proper qualifications to do so. With an increasing number of PCDs undertaking procedures like the application of braces, oral surgeries, periodontal work, and pediatric care, the public has a right to know when they should be treated by a specialist, whether the dental provider performing their care has attended an accredited residency program, and whether they have completed the licensure requirements to do so. The campaign is based on the principle that patients deserve the most educated, most experienced practitioner to render treatment correctly the first time, and the public should expect and demand honesty and transparency when accepting a dentist's recommendation for care. More information is available at


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