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New from the blog: Our First Oral Health Day: Lobbying at the Capital

Feb 12, 2018 07:48 pm by Christine Nguyen


On February 8th, ASDOH sent 10 D1 students to the State Capital in Phoenix for Oral Health Day. This day was designated by the Arizona Dental Association (AzDA) as a day that the dental community could come together and lobby for our profession. That morning, we met members of the AzDA, practicing dentists, and dental students from Midwestern in the Old Capitol Building. We had a briefing on our hot topics for the day: a Senate Bill that provided dental benefits for pregnant mothers and the Senate Bill pertaining to the Sunrise Application for Dental Therapists in Arizona.

During our briefing we openly discussed opinions and shared knowledge with each other on the topics. For example, the periodontists in the room were able to share their experiences working with pregnant mothers who had periodontal disease and how reducing periodontitis in this population reduces the risk of giving birth to a pre-mature baby and reduces the transmission of caries-causing bacteria through the placenta. As Saleha Sherwani shares, “My first experience at Oral Health Day was both informative and exciting! I was able to learn a lot from dentists of the ADA board and from all across Arizona. They shared such insightful views on various issues, that helped inform my peers and I on what is going on the realms of real world dentistry and oral health. While pushing through the years with our studies, it’s important for us students to be involved in issues and bills involving our profession-to-be as early as possible.”

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Dentists, Lobbyists, and Dental Students from ASDOH and Midwestern brief at the capital From there, dental students paired up with dentists to meet with legislators to express their stance face-to-face. Katrina Sicam actually got to meet her representative in the Chambers of the House of Representatives. She says, “Being a first year dental student it’s hard not to get wrapped up in our daily routines and we may even overlook the bigger picture. Oral Health Day showed me that there is so much more to the dental profession and there are many other ways to make an impact on the surrounding community. Talking to legislators and established dentists brought to light important matters in dentistry and how they will impact our future as dental professionals. I’m grateful that ASDOH has these amazing opportunities to get more involved in organized dentistry and work with such influential people.”

After an afternoon of meetings, Senator Kimberly Yee came to speak to us about her position on the Dental Therapy Bill as a member of the Education and Health committees. Then Senator Yee introduced the AzDA and dental students to the Senate as we sat in the gallery to observe the session. It was such an eye-opening experience being at the capital as an observer to all of its legislative proceedings. Even by being present, we showed legislators that dental students have a voice and that we care about the future of our profession.

Here are other testimonies from D1 attendees: “I thought it was so cool that we as dental students had a voice. We were able to voice our opinion to certain bills on the computer system at the Capitol. Doing so showed the representatives how we feel about that bill the day they are going to vote on it. Additionally, the education we get at these events is very different than the education we get in the classroom. The practicing dentists in the room knew so much about the science behind the issues and it inspired me to pay more attention to my classes because it does have application to the real world when it comes to these health bills. The day showed me that these are serious bills that will affect us and we should take the chance to use our voice to have a say in whether it passes or not. I highly suggest others to take part in legislation in the future.” -Andrew Naylor “Oral health day was a great experience as a first year dental student. The rare opportunity to meet with state and senate representatives was greatly appreciated. These meetings helped set the foundation for change leading to a better and brighter future for dentists all over.”-Justin Sapwell “I had a really positive experience. Oral Health Day really made me think more about my position on the Dental Therapy Bill. I have worked with private practice dentists that did not have much contact with other dentists. OHD showed me how organized dentistry brings everyone together to work towards a common goal.” -Hennah Jafferbhoy 📷ASDOH ’21 students visit the House of Representatives gallery 📷ASDOH ’21 students outside the Old Capitol Building

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