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Letters: My View on Aspen ads

September 18, 2017

Dr. Matthew J. Messina said in his My View, "They Should Know Better," that appeared in the Aug. 21 ADA News, "We can encourage Aspen to work with us in areas where we have common interests. It would benefit them more than they think."

This is a very good message; however, the rest of the letter preaches to the crowd, including statistics/studies confirming that 69 percent of patients prefer an ADA dentist, and 75 percent of patients knowing a dentist were an ADA member would influence their choice.

Forgive me for recalling that 83.775 percent of all statistics are made up on the spot. Forgive me too, but I cannot recall any of my patients knowing about the ADA at all.

Most of us are familiar with the ADA Code of Ethics, though I strongly suspect from my years on the Missouri Dental Board that there is a significant number who neither are aware of the code, nor care very much about adhering to its principles.

It is a shame, but it is the truth and a reality in any profession or group.

Aspen has the right and the backing of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in being able to advertise in any way they think will draw patients away from other practitioners and into their profit centers.

By negatively portraying the average solo practitioner, they can be effective in growing their centers.

This can be of benefit to the solo practitioner if he/she is willing to study, improve and deliver superior quality in a more than friendly environment of staff and amenities.

We can do this.

Dr. Messina says, "As difficult as it is not to respond directly to Aspen ads ...That's the right thing to do."

In this we begin to part ways. Although we should not respond directly or individually, one of the reasons we join organizational dentistry, such as the ADA, is for the protection and power of a group response for any egregious assault on our professional standing.

We expect a swift, appropriate, but stern, advertising response to those who attempt to disparage our profession by promoting fear. That is the right thing to do.

Dr. Messina's grandmother used to say of entities like Aspen, "They should know better," and they should, but they don't, and I suspect they couldn't care less.

They have investors and a board who care about profit.

It is time for organized dentistry (ADA) to respond strongly to set the record straight about the average practitioner and give notice to the corporate organizations that we will not lie down and be their whipping boy.

Gerald W. Spencer, D.D.S.
Sedalia, Missouri