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Forum Category: Practice Administration

Moderated by:
Mohammad Bawany

Organized dentistry affects how we practice!

Over the past year I have had the privilege of serving as ASDA president for my dental school chapter. Through this experience one of the things that has become painfully apparent to me is a lack of understanding of what organized dentistry is, its history, and why it’s so important for dentists young and old to get involved. The American Dental Association was founded in 1859 and today serves as the nation’s largest dental association with more than 159,000 members nationwide. The American Student Dental Association was founded in 1970 and today represents the voice of 90% of all dental students in the country. Although I am partial to the ADA and the ASDA there are many other special interest dental groups and student dental groups to give voice to specific concerns. With these organizations and the umbrella organization of the ADA and ASDA we can present with a unified voice.

Organized dentistry is a platform that allows dentists and dental student to come together as a collective and give voice to our opinions to help shape the future of dentistry. Dentistry is such a distinct profession and only dentists or dental students can truly appreciate the challenges of practicing dentistry and it is our duty to the profession to voice our opinions to ensure a bright future for dentistry. Today the profession of dentistry is changing rapidly with the reform in student licensure, use of midlevel providers, introduction of corporate dentistry, and so many other changes. It is our job as dental students and dentists to join our local association and voice our opinion on these issues to make sure the future of this profession is protected.  Writing from a student’s perspective, one of the more recent issues that have really gained traction with both the ADA and ASDA is the concept of student debt. According to the American Dental Education Association the national average dental student debt is approximately $247,227 with many students reaching almost double that amount.  So why is it so important to get involved? With so much student debt many students are turning to different models of practice in order to pay of their student debts. The increasing amount of student debt is directly affecting how new dentists practice dentistry and where they practice dentistry. This high debt is preventing young dentist from pursuing careers in rural areas or public health due to financial reasons.

So what is the ADA and ASDA doing about it? Currently ASDA and the ADA have been working diligently together to combine the voice of dental students and dentists alike to express the need to drive down the costs of dental schools and provider alternative payment methods for graduating dentists. The ADA has recently introduced the DRB student loan refinancing option, allowing students to refinance their debt with Darien Rowayton Bank at interest rates starting at 1.88% APR variable or 3.25% APR fixed. Although this option isn’t the solution to all our student debt issues it is a step in the right direction.

The above mentioned is just one example of how organized dentistry is working to improve the lives of dental students, dentists and the practice of dentistry. However, these efforts are all in vain if we as a collective do not become educated in the issues and become engaged in organized dentistry. A more educated and engaged group of dentists and dental students allows for a stronger voice in the ADA and ASDA, allowing our profession to have a stronger voice as a whole. 

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Organized dentistry affects how we practice!

04:48 PM | Dec 14,2016
This discussion on organized dentistry really resonates with me because before dental school, I was very unaware that such societies existed. I thought that the dental world was protected under certain "rights", only to now find out that we as dentists and dental students are the ones who must protect our own profession. ASDA is a great way to begin getting involved with organized dentistry. Becoming an active member of our local chapter enabled me to serve as a Student Consultant for a council at the state dental society. This has provided yet another networking opportunity with dentists in the area and has shown me that even after dental school is over, there are still ways to get involved with the profession outside of actual work. Creating these types of networks are extremely valuable and important to keep the profession of dentistry regulated as we see fit.

Organized dentistry affects how we practice!

12:24 PM | Nov 25,2016
ASDA has been such a great advantage for all of the students at University Nebraska Medical Center College of Dentistry. At our school we have 100% membership and participation in ASDA, which in my opinion is fantastic! ASDA has given us, the future of dentistry, a voice in this ever changing field. Along with sharing our own personal ideas and opinions, I think the biggest benefit for me, aside from all of the perks of being a member, has been listening to others. Just as was mentioned previously, in order to be successful public servants we must be well versed in ALL areas of our field, even the ones that may not peak our interests. By becoming a member of an organization such as ASDA I have grown my knowledge in not only the patient side of dentistry, but also the business side. Lastly, I would like to echo another great point already addressed. We need to maximize our memberships! Especially from a students view, there are so many great benefits that can come from being an ASDA member. One example is, free disability insurance! It's a great perk that so many don't take advantage of. This was a great post! Hopefully it can encourage people to get out there, get involved, and start maximizing their memberships.

Organized dentistry affects how we practice!

11:28 AM | Jun 27,2016
I was involved in ASDA throughout dental school and I plan to be involved with the ADA in both the state and local capacity. Not only do we have a voice together, but it is the type of organization that will help you grow professionally and make the right decisions about future practice. I went to lobby day and it was amazing to be able to meet with representatives to discuss issues regarding student debt. Unfortunately the bill we proposed was not passed, but it is a long process that takes years. I will definitely be looking into refinancing my student loans, but I wish we had more information about the protections of these loans compared to government loans.

Organized dentistry affects how we practice!

06:51 PM | May 13,2016
I couldn't agree more! It is so easy to forget about policies especially if it is not one's topic of interest. However in order for us to be efficient public servants we need to be informed on polices that influence how we will practice dentistry in the future. In addition to student loans, we should fight to receive more pay/rewards when we provide treatments that help foster positive behaviors in patients and promote remineralization...for example, the cost of implants and crowns vs. less invasive treatments that help restore a patient's natural teeth. I do not know much about ASDA but I am encouraged to get involved! Thank you.

Organized dentistry affects how we practice!

08:56 PM | May 08,2016
I completely agree with this post as well. Coming from the same background, I too was part of leadership at the local and district level. I felt like a large amount of my time was spent explaining all of the benefits of having a clear voice for dentist and dental students and the importance of that voice. Something that I found very helpful in explaining the importance was having general body members attend events and have them report back to the general body. Something that I think is very useful in organized dentistry is the networking opportunity it provides the members, especially at the national level. I feel like when I enter a new city that the local dental organizations is where I will learn about the dental community.

Organized dentistry affects how we practice!

12:18 AM | Apr 19,2016
I appreciate this post because many professional individuals feel that the annual cost of joining a professional organization is just too high compared to what they actually receive - they just don't see the benefits of membership. Depending on the organization, this could be true or false. One thing that I have seen with the ADA and ASDA is that many people do not maximize their benefits! Aside from the "personal gains" of dental organizations, it is important to recognize the impacts on policy! National Lobby Days are a great example of how future dental professionals collectively come together to influence change at the level of the law makers. At the end of the day, an engaged voice is one that will be heard. If you care about the future of the dental profession, we as dental professionals must continue to be a united front!