What’s in a Name? What Dentists Need to Know About Naming Their Dental Practice
Congratulations! You just bought or started up your very own dental practice. Now you want to give your practice a sleek, catchy name that will attract patients and give you an edge over the dentist across the street. But what name should you choose? How about “Best Smile Dental” or “Number One Dentist in Toronto”. Maybe “Dentistry on Smith Street”. Or how about “Pear Tree Dental”?
The Naming Process
Dental practice names must be applied for and approved by the executive committee at the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario (the “RCDSO“). It is considered professional misconduct to operate a dental practice under a name which is not approved by the RCDSO, with very few exceptions (such as “Family Dentistry”).
According to the RCDSO, practice names cannot include the use of descriptive terms about the practice, the practitioner, the equipment, materials, expected treatment results or any other aspect of dental practice. So the names “Best Smile Dental” and “Number One Dentist in Toronto” that you were considering earlier are unacceptable.
So, if the name of your dental practice cannot refer to “any other aspect of dental practice” then what can the name refer to?
According the the RCDSO, and from our experience, dentists who submit applications for a name which is reasonably referable to the location of the practice are normally approved. So, names such as “Dentistry on Smith Street” would be acceptable. Also, names such as “Lake View” or “Mountain View”, if you are close to a lake or mountain would also both be acceptable. However, names such as “Toronto Dentistry” may not fly, because there are thousands of other dental practices in Toronto, so that description may not be “reasonable” in the eyes of the RCDSO.
At this point you might be asking “what about areas that are so saturated that most names referring to the area or location of the practice are already taken?”
In such a situation, the RCDSO recommends that you choose a name which is completely unrelated to dentistry, such as a non-offensive object like “apple”, “tree” or “sun”. So, names such as “Pear Tree Dental” and “Sun Dentistry” will most likely be acceptable ones. But… object names are only acceptable so long as they are not “unprofessional” and do not refer to any other aspect of dental practice such as “Molar Dental”.
Specialist practices, such as orthodontic, periodontic, etc. have other rules imposed on them. The RCDSO practice advisory on practice names states that the specialty referred to must be one of the 11 recognized specialties of the RCDSO and all the dentists (including associates) who practice in the office where the name is used must be registered with the RCDSO as specialists in that branch of dentistry. So, if you are a periodontic specialist practice with the name “Smith Street Periodontics” who wants to hire a general dentist a few days per week – you might find yourself in some trouble. For further reading on mixed specialist and mixed general practice and specialist practice names, click here.
For further guidance on practice names, you can contact us or the RCDSO directly or visit them online for useful publications: www.rcdso.org.
Please note that the information provided herein is not legal advice and is provided for informational and educational purposes only. If you need legal advice, contact me (Ljubica Durlovska), David Mayzel or Michael Carabash. We are your legal dental team.