A lawsuit recently filed against Aspen Dental Management, Inc. is shining a spotlight on state laws regarding who can, and cannot, own a dental practice. The allegations of the plaintiffs in the Aspen lawsuit rely heavily on state laws prohibiting non-dentists, such as Aspen Management, from owning dental practices. Unfortunately for the Aspen plaintiffs, however, these laws are no longer as widespread as they once were or as widespread as the suit alleges. In some states, including Wisconsin, anyone, including a non-dentist, can own a dental practice.
At one time, the laws of most states prohibited corporations, like Aspen Management, from owning dental or medical practices. The theory behind these laws was that only a person, not a corporation, could be licensed to practice medicine or dentistry and, therefore,