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MyView: What if organized dentistry went away?

January 23, 2017

Emily Ishkanian, D.M.D.
Recently I was at a meeting with a friend who graduated with me from dental school. During the meeting, she made the comment that “organized dentistry was going away.” The comment struck me, and it took me a moment to process what she said. Over the days following the meeting, her comment ate away at me. What would my life look like, or better yet, what would my profession look like if organized dentistry dissolved over time?

To name a few:

  • Who would advocate for me as a dentist and serve as an educated and informed voice while I was able to treat patients?
  • Who would create the ethical standards that I abide by in order to put patients first?
  • Who would offer peer review, the cost-effective process for resolving treatment disagreements that a dentist and patient are not able to resolve themselves?
  • Who would have negotiated a 0.25 percent interest savings for members on the endorsement with DRB on student loan refinancing programs rather than pocketing it? Who would acknowledge the importance of state and local societies and other loan refinancing programs, promoting healthy competition to give members options?
  • Who would fight for dentist’s rights on Capitol Hill — repealing the medical device tax and promoting the Student Loan Refinancing Act while serving as one of the strongest national political action committees?
  • Who would engage the public and be a resource through MouthHealthy.org?
  • Whose members would treat 350,000 kids annually and provide over $5 million in donated dental services while bringing awareness to oral health in America through Give Kids A Smile?

The ADA. Without the ADA, these things would never exist.

I’m proud to be a member of the ADA. I’m honored to be a part of an organization that is 159,000 dentists strong.

I know that if I need something the ADA is there not just to get me through but also to make sure that I’m successful. And even when I don’t know what I need, it’s the ADA that is the first to inform me and provide me with resources so that I can spend my time doing what I do best: serving patients.

It’s not about discounts and offers, but rather the peace of mind I receive knowing that for the cost of a cup of coffee a day, I have someone looking out for the small business owner, the young professional, the health care provider.

I’m doing my part to be a cohesive voice, active member and support an organization that works tirelessly so that I can succeed. Without truly understanding the benefits of organized dentistry and being an active member, organized dentistry will dissolve. But I hope in my lifetime, I never see that day. I hope that my colleagues see that without the ADA, without your state and local societies, there’s no network, no unified voice. I’d rather stand united with 159,000 ADA members than alone. Where do you stand?

This editorial, reprinted with permission, first appeared in the New Dentist Now blog on Dec. 2, 2016. Dr. Ishkanian is the 2016-17 chair of the ADA New Dentist Committee and practices as a general dentist in Las Vegas.