There are approximately 3,500 licensed dentists in Wisconsin. We are all affected by policy set in Madison by a few hundred non-dentists. These outcomes affect us whether we are members of organized dentistry or not.
Decisions are made about Medicaid reimbursement rates for dentists, licensure credentials, in-office sedation requirements and quality oral health care in general with or without our input. The most effective way we, as dentists, can influence those decisions is to act as involved members of our dental organization, the WDA. The WDA voices our collaborative opinion, acting as our advocate for dentistry.
I have been a member of the WDA for more than 20 years. I had not appreciated as much of what the WDA does until I started going to Legislative Day in Madison, attending meetings and serving as chair of the WDA Membership Committee.
While attending Board of Trustees’ meetings, I have learned first-hand what the association does for all of us through its involvement in coalitions, meetings with insurance companies, oral health advocacy groups and potential community service partners. It was very eye-opening. There is so much going on that there isn’t enough room in a standard issue of the WDA Journal to fully express it all.
I strongly encourage every dentist in Wisconsin to act (ADVOCATE) for our profession and to be a part of our great organization. We truly value your input and participation. I think you’ll even enjoy the team spirit of being involved with other dentists and sharing your “stresses” and “successes”. Please join us – we would love to have you be a part of the WDA!
-Nancy Patel, DDS
The future of dentistry is being established today. In my opinion, it has never been more important to become an involved member of the WDA. The WDA serves as the voice of dentistry throughout Wisconsin, which is created by dentists who volunteer their time and efforts to help mold the future of our profession.
As a relatively new member of the dental profession, I appreciate the efforts of the many volunteers and WDA staff members. This organization and its members’ hard work are helping to create the environment I will practice in for the next few decades.
Currently, legislation is being debated in this state that will directly affect your future practice. Guidelines for oral sedation dentistry education are being established by the Dentistry Examining Board. Continuing education mandates are being finalized. Amalgam waste disposal is under debate. There is always the question of the best way to treat the state’s underserved individuals. Licensure of foreign-trained dentists and independent dental hygiene practice are presented by some as possible “solutions”.
These issues need to be addressed by dentists who have the clinical education to put the patients’ best interests first.
The WDA is working to ensure these issues are addressed in a manner that best serves dentists and their patients. Only with the input and involvement of practicing dentists can the WDA educate policy-makers on what is best for Wisconsin residents’ dental health.
The WDA also is the primary source of information to the public regarding dental health issues. Public awareness efforts educate patients on the oral/non-oral connections. Campaign messages are created by member dentists who understand the importance of educating the public and creating a positive image of dentists. Without the efforts of these volunteers, the dental profession would not have the positive public image we enjoy today.
I encourage all of you to take an active role in the future of dentistry. Whether it is at the local, state or national level, get involved. The only way your organization can serve you is with your input and expertise. Only you know what is in the best interests of you and your patients.
If dentists don’t involve themselves in educating Wisconsin about what is best for the future oral health of its citizens, someone else will and we may not like the results. Contact your regional trustee to ask how you can be of service to your profession and Wisconsin’s residents.
-Ryan Braden, DDS
Lake Geneva, Wis.
Like most of us, for a number of years after dental school, I was “too busy” building my practice to give much thought to volunteering in the local dental societies. That is, until the federal government and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) came out quite aggressively regarding the blood borne pathogen ruling issue and decided to make dentists a significant target.
The WDA stepped up to the plate and took a very proactive and dynamic position to inform and protect its membership and Wisconsin dentists. Many of us had to make changes in the way we practiced, but these changes were easier and less frightening with the help and educational opportunities offered by the WDA and the Greater Milwaukee Dental Association.
Another significant contribution to both members and public health is the WDA’s television spots on “Sip All Day, Get Decay” and the oral/non-oral health links. These ads demonstrate not only the WDA’s commitment to its members, but to the health and well-being of the general public. These spots are able to reach far more people than we, as individual dentists, are able to reach.
During the past several years, I have come to value being an active part of the local dental societies because of the tumultuous political climate that currently exists in our state. There are now significant political factions in the state government that are a serious threat to the way we are currently able to practice dentistry. These factions threaten not only our livelihood, but the health of our patients, friends and neighbors.
It is only through active participation in our state and local societies that we can fight for our right to practice dentistry as we know it today and give our patients the quality dental care they deserve.
I have always found that being a volunteer is a gift in itself. Whether in my professional or personal life, the gifts I have received from being a volunteer far outweighed the costs. Working with the WDA and GMDA has been no exception. These societies are a service and resource that are invaluable to dentists and the people and communities we serve.
-Russ Dunkel, DDS
I’m proud to be a part of organized dentistry and serve as a role-model to the students here at Marquette University School of Dentistry. I think it is important for us in academia to remain strong partners with our colleagues in private practice.
Membership in organized dentistry provides me with access to information about issues that affect all of dentistry. I am grateful for the timely receipt of notification about upcoming legislation or publication of topics that might be controversial. This prepares me for questions patients may ask.
I regularly receive updates on age-old controversies such as fluoridation and amalgam restorations as well as new issues like Bisphenol A in composite restorations and sealants. It is important to know that when some of our tried and tested procedures are challenged by outside organizations, there is always someone from organized dentistry ready and willing to protect our interests.
When it became obvious that amalgam separators were to become the norm, the Greater Milwaukee Dental Association put on a program to educate its members and even brought in a representative from the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewer District. The dissemination of timely information such as this is a huge benefit to members.
I am an avid follower of Mara Brooks’ legislative updates in the WDA Journal and have watched with interest the unfolding events surrounding the makeup of the Wisconsin Dentistry Examining Board. Having a Board that is comprised of a significant number of non-dentists affects everyone in dentistry and knowing Mara is there to be our eyes and ears is very comforting.
The dental school has a significant stake in the discussion of dental licensure examinations, the use of live patients and the issues of faculty licenses. It is important that the dental school maintain open dialogue with our partners in organized dentistry and demonstrate support by our continued membership.
It has now been seven years since the WDA offered reduced dues for faculty and I am happy to report we have maintained a little more than 80 percent membership during the past few years. It is obvious our faculty recognizes the importance of membership in organized dentistry and we all are grateful for the continued support of our school by the WDA. We continue to offer quality continuing education programs and our faculty is visible at many of the component meetings.
If you have not had a chance to visit our wonderful school, please make a point to do so next time you visit Milwaukee.
-Lisa Koenig, BChD, DDS, MS
Marquette University School of Dentistry Program Director
Oral Medicine & Oral Radiology