The AGD, or the Academy of General Dentistry, was founded in 1952 and is the second biggest dental association in the United States. However, this is the only association that represents the general dentists and their needs entirely. It was founded with the basis of constantly continuing education, and has since expanded to include being the voice of the general dentist. On Capital Hill, AGD is well known and is a great force at dental meetings. They advocate locally and nationally when situations come up that affect the profession.
Dentists are important to society, and their interests should be protected and spoken for. It seems that people on the outside always want to control what they do, with no experience or factual evidence to support their stand. What dentists are paid, and how they choose to treat their patients should be up to the general dentists themselves. Overreach needs to be stopped.
Russell Posey, DDS, FAGD, is a member of the AGD and has advocated for over 24 years as a board member, former president, and current legislative chairman. He even has testified in front of the Colorado Dental Board, where he tried to sway them to allow dentists to use non-degreed appointments in their advertising. If the motion passed, it would mean that those general dentists that earned MAGD or FAGD designations wouldn’t be able to put them on business cards or any other forms of advertisement they utilized, so it was important for Posey to be the voice of the general dentist and state his case. The board eventually changed their decision and now general dentists can proudly show all of their accomplishments that they have achieved over the years.
Posey also took part in the State Advocacy Training, offered by AGD. Annually, those constituents whose states have had different regulations or legislations brought forward regarding policy priorites of AGD are invited to attend. Advocacy matters are discussed and solutions are planned to come up with the best way to approach the matters at hand. Although the training varies by state, all issues are important, especially those relating to the midlevel provider.
Providers that have had minimal training are authorized to perform many regular procedures offered by the general dentist. While this was started as a way for more citizens to have access to care, it hasn’t solved the issue. It has only made it harder for the general dentist with years of schooling and experience to earn a living. Most recent midlevel provider graduates aren’t able to find employment in the less popular areas, so access wasn’t improved. Having less training isn’t good for the patients, as they should be offered the ability to have the same level of care as everyone else.
The Legislative Committee chair from Pennsylvania, Charles R. Fields DDS MAGD, was also a participant in the annual training. He is on the same page when it comes to midlevel providers, but also firmly believes that going against insurance companies when it comes to fee capping is appropriate. In Pennsylvania, he said that it is a prime issue as every person coming into the dental office is affected.
At the local level, Fields and the AGD of Pennsylvania acted in support of House Bill 2241. House Bill 2241 is a bill that stated insurers could not deny reimbursement retroactively when they determine overpayment after 24 months of payment. It was passed November 4, 2016. Fields noted that it is important to give solid examples, showing how it affects both patients and business. Make them understand, and they will eventually accept. Suppressing an insurance claim affects the dentists, the employees, and the patient financially.
It is important to be able to put the patient first in the dental field in order to be successful. The AGD President of Florida, Laurence A. Grayhills DMD MS MAGD, says that all providers have “a mandate to protect and heal.” This is the prime reason why he decided to fight for the reintroduction of fluoride into the Wellington public water system, where he lives. It is extremely effective in preventing tooth decay, and has been praised as being the second best health measure to prevent or eliminate a disease process. Grayhills states that Florida has the extremes of both wealth and poverty, and a lot of the population lacks the funds or ability to get preventative dental care. For children, fluoridated water could be the only form of dental care they receive.
In mid-2016, Grayhills took part in a public village council hearing in support of reintroducing fluoride into the water supply. The Wellington Village Council took the time to hear both sides, and ultimately unanimously decided that the reintroduction of fluoride into the water system was ideal. With protecting and healing on his mind, he isn’t afraid to go after what he believes is best.
Another great thing that Grayhills takes pride in doing is lecturing at the University of Florida College of Dentistry, where he holds the position of visiting lecturer. He knows it is important to inspire those that are just about to start their careers, and wants to get them excited for the future that they have chosen, and the much needed help that they will be giving to others.
Advocating for the profession is vital. Everyone in the profession has a different story, and varying experiences to share. Getting involved in the community is a great way to let others know about what you do and where you stand on certain subjects. Change starts when voices are heard.