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House of Delegates Round-Up

Before sunrise, ten of us were already speeding off to Sedona for the House of Delegates hosted this past Saturday. We were invited to listen in on current issues affecting dentistry in Arizona. Representing 70% of all licensed dentists in the state, the Arizona Dental Association (AzDA) organized this meeting to bring together voices from the Northern, Southern, and Central Arizona Dental Societies.

A call to order officially started the meeting. Introductions were made, followed by other parliamentary formalities. We sat waiting to hear about the challenges dentists currently faced and proposals being made. The discussion highlighted efforts to expand dental benefits in medicine, recognize certain specialities, decrease student debt, remove live patient exams, control the opioid crisis, and largely prevent the approval of dental therapists.

While these issues might often seem dry or irrelevant, one of the presenting doctors put it best when he said, “We all took an oath when we stepped into dentistry. That oath was to protect our patients and uphold our profession.”

Legislation is a long term battle, with constant pulling left and right. It gets messy, costly and time consuming. But without participation we fail to fulfill our obligation as advocates for our patients and communities. This doesn’t imply we all need to become podium-worthy superstars. Simply being cognizant our profession and patients’ challenges, and taking that extra step to sign a proposal or write a note to state legislators contributes greatly toward improving our healthcare system.

This was probably my largest take away from the House of Delegates. I was impressed by both the wide range of dentists in the room and their collective power to impact the stance we take on key state and federal issues. From dental students like Andy Larkin and Erik Klintmalm who testified last year, to fresh graduates in the LEAD program and veteran dentists like Dr. Kay Curtis who received this year’s President’s Award, it comes to show that regardless of where we are in our dental careers, there are opportunities to create an impact in our own ways.

Likewise, decisions made at meetings like these strongly shape every dental practice and patient. The dentists in the room dictate the direction AzDA and ADA takes when informing state representatives and Washington. Whatever verdict a state makes may also set a precedent for other states to follow. Ultimately these cumulative effects arise from your participation.

So stay engaged and get excited to hear more at Pontics & Politics, coming up on September 29th!

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