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Letters: Take leadership role

January 16, 2012

I have been a dentist for 54 years, and during that time I have served on the Access to Care Committee for the Chicago Dental Society and as dental director of the Free People’s Clinic at St. Basil’s.

The ADA’s opposition to the creation of a midlevel provider in the dental hierarchy, which has been proposed as a solution to the access to care problem, is justified. However, opposing this solution does not solve the problem of inadequate quality dental care for our citizens. It will be viewed by some as an attempt to maintain the status quo.

The dental profession has many intelligent and dedicated members. Why can’t the ADA take some of its precious resources to create and promote a program which will provide dental care for all Americans regardless of income? As one former president of the ADA stated, "Volunteerism is not a program."

When a genuine need and desire are present, other nondental organizations will attempt to fill the void. Nature abhors a vacuum.

For lo many years, organized dentistry repeatedly states that oral health is an integral component of overall health. It is incumbent upon us then to make that outcome possible by taking a leadership role. As the slogan from the 60s says, "If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem."

Edward Schaaf, D.D.S.