President’s Message May 2016


This Is Where We Begin

The end.  This year has been one of incredible growth for me and I have been privileged to serve as your President.  It has been our board’s goal to create a must-have membership for you.  What does that mean?  That we provide you, our amazing dentists, with what you ask for.  In our surveys and speaking to our members we know that opportunities for volunteerism, networking, social events and more local study groups are what you are hungering for.  And we have answered.

Let us reflect on these past 12 months.  We kicked off last summer with the New Dentist annual boat party.  It was a great time that reminded me dentists really know how to have good time.  Other new dentist events such as the pub crawl and UT basketball game are reasons alone to be members of CADS.  It’s not all fun though as we know it is important to help foster young dentists in their career.  The practice management round-table and the Wine and Wisdom events allow younger dentists opportunities to ask questions and develop their resources and network.  We so appreciate our newer members like Dr. Kacie Stair, Dr. Lacey Ferguson, and Dr. Amy Nguyen who are getting involved in our community.

On behalf of our community we fought to keep fluoride in Austin’s water supply.  Thank you Dr. Matt Heck and other supporters for joining me in front of the city council.  It is important to be an activist and to stop being a by-stander.  Change only happens when you make your voice heard!

Other members on our board have had your political backs.  We work with the TDA to give input and advocate on behalf of you and all of our patients so that we can provide the best and safest dental care.  Thank you to Dr. Jeran Hooten, Dr. Mark Peppard, Dr. Alan Moore, Dr. Lance Sanders and Dr. Ensy Atarod for being so active in the legislative process.  It is vital to support DENPAC which advocate on dentists behalf, protecting our freedoms and rights as healthcare providers.  This should be especially important to younger dentists since they have to look at practicing for the next 30 years.  Dr. Kelly Keith and Dr. Jonathon Kimes can help you get involved or simply donate in support of your profession.

Dr. Kent Macaulay and Dr. Kavin Kelp are on the board of the Capital Area Dental Foundation and have worked with CADS in supporting the donated service programs like Goodwill and HAAM.  Fundraising events like the CADF golf classic and the CADF Round Up & Gala are great social events that support these patients in need.  Either volunteering with CADF or just having a wildly good time you too can contribute!

Behind the curtains, our webmaster Dr. Trisha Kimes has spent countless (unpaid) hours further developing our website so that it is user-friendly, esthetic, functional and can support our future endeavors such as a HIPPA compliant chat room where dentists can discuss cases both hypothetical and real.  We have saved you time by now providing on-line registration for meetings and other events!

We appreciate our members and to show that, we organize an annual new member dinner and membership appreciation picnic.  Legacy is important in every culture and this year we honored our members that have been with us for over 50 years.

This 2015-2016 Capital Area Dental Society board has you, our members, in the forefront of our minds.  We give of our time and energy to create a tight-knit dental community that can be the foundation of professional growth by creating opportunities for volunteerism, mentorship, education, advocacy and friendship.  This is our goal.  This is where we begin.

By Elyse Cronin Barron, DDS
CADS President, 2015-2016


President’s Message April 2016



April is going to be a fantastic month for the Capital Area Dental Society.  You have two opportunities to visit with old friends, forge friendships and expand your circle.

Who is looking forward to the Foundation’s Gala this year?  All of you should be raising your hands wildly. I have a strong suspicion that the “Boots and Bling” will bring some faces and some giving that will top all previous years.  Just yesterday in a Bible study group we were talking about giving.  Looking at what I just wrote this is what our dental society and the foundation is doing for you.  April 16th is the night to give (and have a night out)!

April 23rd is the CADS Membership Appreciation picnic.  It will again be held at the Zilker Polo Picnic Tables with Valentina’s Tex-Mex BBQ catering the event.  Please bring your families.  It is often challenging to balance work and family life.  There never seems to be enough time in the day.  The kids will have a blast with the jump houses, games and face painting.  Feel free to bring any other activities you would enjoy!

Cheers to reminiscing and cheers to making new memories!



President’s Message March 2016


Spring is in the Air

Spring is in the air.  Smell the flowers and grass waking up from the winter slumber.  Cedar is leaving and it is a beautiful time here in Austin, Texas.  The weather is perfect and it’s time to enjoy our not-so-quaint anymore but definitely quirky city.

Zilker Park Kite Festival March 6th

Start by going out to the Zilker Park Kite Festival!  What child (or adult) doesn’t enjoy kite flying?  Or at least watch the kites.  I have never been very successful at piloting my own but I love to lay on a blanket and watch them dance and dive.  It is the nation’s oldest kite festival and features hundreds of kites in the air and is free to attend for people of all ages; complete with kite flying contests, food, games and more.

SXSW Music, Film and Interactive Conference and Festival March 11-20th

The Austin Convention Center and more than 50 venues host noted filmmakers, musicians and multimedia artists from around the world converge to showcase music, film and interactive media.  We are all influenced by media, music and film.  Why not go check out what is at the forefront in our own backyard?

Rodeo Austin is Where Weird Meets Western 

Events start as early as the first weekend in March.  The cowboy breakfast at the Long Center is March 4th and features pancakes, authentic chuck wagon biscuits, and live music.  Fun for all ages and fun for free!  There will also be a new event, BBQ Austin, which is scheduled for March 4th and 5th at the Fairgrounds.  The BBQ teams will be competing and as usual the public is invited to sample the mouthwatering food.  The Rodeo itself extends from two weeks around spring break from March 12th through the 16th.  Come watch the rodeo events, concerts and livestock shows!

Capitol 10K April 10th

Run from Congress Avenue to Auditorium Shores with your fellow Austinites in this classic romp through our city.  It is Texas’ largest 10K race that brings not only neighbors out but runners from all over the country.  Lace up those trendy minimalist shoes and come for a run!

CADF Gala April 16th 

Bring out your Boots and Bling on April 16th for the Capital Area Dental Foundation’s Round Up and Gala.  Not only will you be supporting the patients but also appreciating the volunteers who give of their time to help raise the oral health of our fair city.  Dale Watson and his Lone Stars will be playing and who can resist a fun casino night.  See y’all there!

CADS Family Fun Picnic April 23rd

April 23rd is the much anticipated date for our Family Fun Picnic at Zilker.  There will be jump houses, face painting, games and food!  Come out and meet some new friends or reconnect with old ones.  Play with your kids and socialize at the same time.  Pretty awesome multitasking for working parents!  More information and updates to come so keep an eye on your CADS weekly update email.

TMOM May 20th-21st Fort Worth, TX

What is a TMOM?  An amazing opportunity to serve and volunteer.  TMOM, or Texas Mission of Mercy is a mobile dental clinic that travels around the state providing basic dental care, free of charge to uninsured Texans.  These events occur all throughout the year in different areas around Texas but this is the next one!  New Dentists interesting in getting a group together please contact Kacie Stair.


By Elyse Cronin Barron, DDS
CADS President, 2015-2016


President’s Message February 2016


National Children’s Dental Health Month

So February is the month of love… or at least of chocolates and roses.  It is also Black History Month, American Heart Month, apparently the Great American Pie Month and the National Children’s Dental Health month. Although pies are always a good topic I thought it might be more appropriate to write about how we can educate, motivate and serve the children in our community through dentistry.

National Children’s Dental Health observances began with a one-day event in Cleveland, Ohio and a one-week event in Akron, Ohio during February 1941. Since then, the concept has grown from a two-city event into a nationwide program. The American Dental Association held the first national observance of Children’s Dental Health Day on February 8, 1949. The single day observance became a weeklong event in 1955. And in 1981, the program was extended to a month-long celebration known today as National Children’s Dental Health Month. (copied from the ADA website)

Did you know that every year the American Dental Association puts together an outreach plan and activities around this month?  This year they tied it in with the iconic fight between the light and dark side and have themed it Sugar Wars.

sugar wars


On the ADA website they have calendars, word searches, coloring pages, crossword puzzles, posters in English and Spanish and other ideas on how to reach out to not only your patients but into the community.  These are great for school speaking events or health fairs.  You can sponsor a coloring contest, sponsor a dental health essay contest, sponsor a display at the library or museum, and organize dental health screenings at schools, churches or community centers.  The ideas are numerous and the ADA has provided fantastic resources to help you.

There are those of us who volunteer our time once a year or for marketing purposes.  Then there are those who give back routinely because of a deep passion for serving others.  This quarter the Capital Area Dental Foundation (CADF) is recognizing Dr. Danny Watts, a practicing pediatric dentist for the past 38 years. Dr. Watts is a past president for the Texas Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. He is a long-time supporter of Ronald McDonald House, personally, and has made that the primary philanthropy of his practice. Dr. Watts volunteers his services for international patients flown into Dell Children’s Hospital for care. He has worked with the Foundation’s newest partner, HeartGift, for several years and will continue as a CADF provider for years to come. Dr. Watts says that his reward is helping kids with special needs but his contributions are for the families. “They get torn apart with these medical crises and so the best way to help them is to keep them close together… during those trying times… and it is our honor to be able to help them.” His practice, Pediatric Dental Professionals won the Outstanding Philanthropic Corporation of the Year in 2015 from the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

Lindsay Askew, his office manager had this to say about him. “I have worked for Dr. Watts for over 15 years, and can honestly tell you that narrowing my thoughts about him down to a few words has proven to be an impossible task.  Parents come in all the time, and ask us if he is as wonderful to work for as he is to be a patient of.  Our answer is always “YES!”  It is no surprise to any of us that he feels honored to give back to the community.  Dr. Watts is truly one of the most caring, compassionate people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.”

It is my honor, and I am not alone, to know Dr. Danny Watts.  He has the privilege of taking care of children and has taken his gifts and skills to the highest level of service.  Thank you Dr. Watts, for making your life about children’s dental health.

If you would like to know more about getting involved with HeartGift or other philanthropic opportunities please contact the Capital Area Dental Foundation.  512-992-1217

By Elyse Cronin Barron, DDS
CADS President, 2015-2016



President’s Message January 2016


New Year’s Resolutions

I hope everyone had a Happy New Year! There is nothing I like more than wiping the slate clean. A fresh start, the feeling that anything is possible and the future is unwritten. How can we be improve ourselves, make work less stressful and enjoy life more? Some of you may make New Year’s resolutions because you are goal setters. Some of you may despise New Year’s resolutions because they aren’t accomplished, so why make them? In any case, here are a few ideas.

Turn off your smartphone during dinner. Enjoy the peace.
Shop locally, eat locally. Be involved in supporting our community.
Help strangers.
Develop time management strategies so you have more time for you.
Go someplace you’ve never been, travel!
Volunteer and serve the least among us (get in touch with CADF; they’d be happy to help)
Be outside more, breathe that fresh air!
Learn one new thing a week; it doesn’t have to be about dentistry!
Be more open and honest, let your life be a window and not a wall.
Wear a flower in your hair (or on your jacket lapel)
Live more minimalistically.
Have more gratitude and teach it to your kids.
Drive less, stretch your legs.
Attend the CADF Gala April 16, 2016 (shameless plug)
Make an effort to respond to emails quickly so they don’t fall through the cracks. (This will be a hard one for me)
Actually DO some of the DIY projects you’ve pinned.
Develop closer relationships with your patients.
Fire the most time consuming and mentally exhausting patient from your practice.
Write a handwritten thank you note. In an era of digital communication, this has a huge impact.

For those of you who don’t do New Year’s Resolutions or can’t get past the 3 week mark of “I’m going to exercise more” consider just doing One Word. One Word that will focus your efforts and goals for the next year. We used to write our short and long-term goal every year as part of our annual office planning meeting. We have now gone to One Word to hone ourselves as individuals and also for our team and practice.

Determine what your One Word is going to be. Well first you may want to read the book One Word. Two years ago my word was “Serve”. It helped me to get involved with my church, CADS and at my kid’s schools. I vowed to serve others more than myself, that included my patients, my staff, my family. This past year was “Breathe”. Those of you who know me, know I’m not the calmest or most relaxed individual. For me, Breathe, meant to take more time in the moment, to be present in whatever situation I was in. Take a breath, calm down, there’s no hurry, no reason to get worked up. This ended up applying to difficult dentistry situations or taking the world’s slowest walk with my children. For 2016 my word will be to “Listen”. My husband thought that was hilarious and asked if he was included! A perfect example of how there is always room for improvement. I certainly want to learn to listen to my family better. My friends, the pastor at our church, God, the list goes on and on. Sometimes I listen to my patient’s best because I pay attention more. They tell us so many things with their words, body language and even by what they don’t say. I want to be like that with everyone, even you. I want to listen. So if there are things about CADS that you want to see changed, or have comments of appreciation please let me know. Your elected board of this society and our executive director, the fabulous Nancy Nisbett, is here to serve dentistry in this community and more importantly support and serve you. We are here to listen.

Good luck in 2016!
By Elyse Cronin Barron, DDS
CADS President, 2015-2016


President’s Message December 2015


The Show or The Why?


So I am walking around HEB and it’s not even Halloween yet but the displays already have holiday themes.  Not only is it disconcerting, it’s October and I’m still coercing my kids to decide on a costume, but it’s still 95 degrees out.  I was raised in Colorado and Washington and it should be cold, and there should be seasons (San Diego never makes any sense to me).
Every store, advertisement and sale is now being geared to the shopping extravaganza that will ensue over the next two months.  We will get prepared for the decorations, the feasts, the lights, the out of town guests… the show.
It doesn’t just happen at the holidays though.  We get caught up on in our daily lives and practices of how we think our neighbors, family and friends perceive our successes.
At our practices we are inundated by the newest products and gadgets – ipads for health history, laser dentistry, digital everything.  That somehow these new materials and devices will serve our patients better and that we will be better dentists.  True, there are some advantages to an esthetically pleasing office and good equipment but patient’s care about themselves first and foremost.
How they feel when they walk into the office and when they are in the chair.  Are you trustworthy?  Will you hurt them?  As Simon Sinek talks about in his book, Start with Why, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.  And what you do simply proves what you believe”.
Why did you want to become a dentist?  Why do you go to work every day?  What brings you the most joy in your day?  For me, it’s helping the very anxious patients.  The patients that can barely open the office door let alone allow you to start running the drill in their mouth.  Helping those kinds of patients be at ease when they sit in the chair and no longer require sedation.  What else brings me joy?  The small victories – the ideal filling, the beautiful single anterior veneer, a kid who finally starts brushing his braces, the final acceptance of a treatment plan you’ve discussed for the past 5 years.  The moments when I feel like I have served my patients well are Why I do What I do.

“Instead of asking, “WHAT should we do to compete?” the questions must be asked, “WHY did we start doing WHAT we’re doing in the first place, and WHAT can we do to bring our cause to life considering all the technologies and market opportunities available today?”
                                                                                                                                     – Simon Sinek,  Start with Why

The gizmos and gadgets help us to have better results but let’s all try and recognize each day what brings us the joy – The Why behind the dentistry.  Is it the science, is it the art or is it serving your patients, the patients that trust you.
Enjoy the holidays and family time, travel safely.  Have a Merry Christmas and Happy Hannukah!  My prayers are with each of you to be joyful and kind.  We serve others, that is our blessing and may each of you be blessed in doing so.


By Elyse Cronin Barron, DDS

CADS President, 2015-2016



President’s Message November 2015




Thanksgiving is both my husband’s and my favorite holiday but for very different reasons.  His have everything to do with football, playing and watching.  Normally he is lying prone on the couch (watching football) after playing his annual Thanksgiving tackle football with friends, nursing one or more injuries.  That is what happens when you don’t warm up, stretch, and think you’re still 18.


My reasons?  There are no gifts which means no shopping, agonizing whether or not the person on the receiving end of my shopping will be terribly disappointed.  I can handle the list for the grocery store.  If you are on the end of my cooking you may also be in agony but at least I liked the food and ate the seconds everyone else passed on.  For me Thanksgiving equates to an excuse to indulge in delicious food and 4 solid days of family time.  My family is beyond blessed that we can enjoy both of those together.


How do you “DO” Thanksgiving?  Running a Turkey Trot, cooking, eating, playing football, watching football, Black Friday shopping?  However you “DO” Thanksgiving let’s reflect that they are all actions, activities.  Thanksgiving is not just a day, but an action.


“Thanksgiving, after all, is a word of action.” ~ W. J. Cameron


So how do you demonstrate your giving thanks for all your blessings?  This Thanksgiving I challenge you to do something with your gratitude.  Take action.


There are many ways to give back in our community from donating turkey dinners, hosting a Coats for Kids drive, collecting blankets for Safe Place.  We all have a set of skills though that make us uniquely capable of healing and serving the oral health needs among those who need it most.  Dr. Don Taylor stated it eloquently, “We should be helping the least among us.”  Such a simple statement but it resonates deeply.  If you would like to get involved there are two great organizations, the Texas Smiles Foundation and the Capital Area Dental Foundation.


Through the Capital Area Dental Foundation, 119 patients have been treated from July 1, 2015 to October 1, 2015.  That’s only 4 months!  Thank you to those who have volunteered.  The charitable portion reported is $40,493.90.  We know that many of the providers do not report the charitable part of care so that amount is underrepresenting the generosity of our volunteer dentists, surgeons and laboratories.  CADF programs include Donated Dental Services for disabled adults and adults age 62 and over, Goodwill of Central Texas who are enrolled in Goodwill’s job training program, St. Vincent de Paul for Austin’s working poor adults who are often in crisis financial situations, and the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians (HAAM) who help uninsured, low-income Austin working musicians.  All these CADF programs benefit those who can certainly use our skills, talents and charity.  We would also love for you to support this foundation by playing in the CADF CADS Golf Classic  on Friday November 20, 2015 at the Avery Ranch Golf Club or putting on your boots and bling for the CADF Round Up and Gala Saturday April 16, 2016 at the Four Seasons Hotel.


The Texas Smiles Foundation has two programs, Donated Dental Services, which is statewide, and the Texas Mission of Mercy.  The Texas Mission of Mercy (TMOM) is a mobile dental clinic that travels around the state providing basic dental care (including cleanings, fillings, or extractions), free of charge, to uninsured Texans.  Treatment provided at a TMOM is focused on relieving pain.  Volunteer dentists examine and will determine the most necessary treatment for each patient.


All these amazing programs and events, the relief and the smiles from these patients are not only heart-warming but inspirational.  I promise, you will be inspired by their stories, their lives and how you are giving not only their health back but their confidence, jobs and sometimes even their families.  As a volunteer your cup will runneth over.


We can give back.  We should give back.  We will have Thanksgiving in our hearts and actions.


By Elyse Cronin Barron, DDS

CADS President, 2015-2016



President’s Message October 2015



This morning I signed the title over for my 2002 Chrysler Minivan. (HOORAY!)  I have been waiting FOREVER to do that!  No offense intended for any minivan drivers out there but it was never really my style.  So why on earth do I have one?  My grandfather bequeathed it to me when he passed away.  I was a new parent and he thought it was a good family car with all of 3000 miles on it.  So part of me is celebrating getting rid of that stereotyped soccer mom mobile but another part of me is sad for having let go of that gift from my cranky beloved grandfather.  Yes, there were more important legacies that he left behind like the value of education and the sometimes objectionable ability to speak my mind.  But it made me think as we go forth; we all leave behind trails of tradition, virtue, chaos, or cars with remote control doors.

What legacy will you leave behind for those who follow?  We have an amazing group of dentists that have been members of the Capital Area Dental Society for over 50 years.  These dentists have contributed to the oral health and well being of our city for over half a century.  Many of our patients and their families have been treated and cared for by these men.  Their vault of knowledge and experience is beyond appreciation and respect.  As a younger dentist I couldn’t even begin to consider these amazing men peers.  They are our advisors, coaches, teachers, mentors with sage wisdom to impart.


George Henry Jurek 1956 Brooks Goldsmith 1961
William Wicheta 1957 Gerald McDougal 1962
George Shia 1957 Eugene LaGesse 1962
Bernard Stratman 1958 Edgar Harris 1962
Erwin Rost 1958 Gordon Hamilton 1962
Morton Krumholz 1958 Howard Ramey 1963
Jack Weatherford 1959 Louis Cannatti 1963
Carroll Nanney 1959 Michael Wetzel 1964
Noel Roebuck 1961 Joe Smith 1965
James Ratliff 1961 Robert Reese 1965
JD McBee 1961 Joseph Bell 1965


Dr. Michael Moossy said this, “I worked side by side with Dr. Joseph Bell for years prior to his retirement.  In that time, he became more than just an associate/partner, he became a friend, mentor and life coach.  I knew I was going to have big shoes to fill.  Joe was instrumental in the way I treat my patients and how I balance my career and life outside of dentistry.  To this day, patients fondly ask about how he is and we reminisce on the “Dr. Bell days”.  Day in and day out I see the high quality dentistry that he placed years ago in patients’ mouths and it makes me honored to be a part of his legacy.”

Dr. Tom Wicheta, a past CADS president wrote about his father, Dr. William Wichita, “Over the years, he inspired several folks to seek a career in dentistry and he would often have a temporary associate.  These folks were usually recent graduates or just out of the military who needed a place to start before opening up their own practices.  He has seen dental practices change from when dentists would stand up to practice as well as gold foils giving way to composites.  Over his career, he has touched many lives and improved the health and welfare of his patients while always being compassionate and ethical.  He is a shining example of what we all should be striving for—an inspiration to others.  He is my hero.”

Consider the legacy these men leave.  Think about those we follow and those we have learned from.  In the coming months we will be launching a mentorship program.  We will need both mentors and mentees to become involved.  You don’t have to be 50 years out of school to be a mentor just a desire to help a younger flock of dentists who are striving to be their best – the best practitioner, employer or business owner.  Please keep an eye on the weekly CADS Update email and the website for the program launch!

By Elyse Cronin Barron, DDS
CADS President, 2015-2016




President’s Message September 2015


Back to School

Summer has come and gone, sort of.  It is still bordering hundred degree days and I’m still sweating as I walk from my car into the office but that carefree feeling of summer has been surely stuffed back into the classrooms along with all the kids in Austin.  I came across this little story about education and it reminded me that we need to keep learning, keep growing and to keep moving.


A college class was graduating on a hot and humid day.


As the graduates walked across the platform and received their diplomas from the president of the college, he smiled, shook their hands, and said loudly, “Congratulations!” Then, in a much lower voice, one that was firm and could be heard only by the graduates, he would say, “Keep moving.”


He was only trying to keep the line moving across the stage, but his words were good advice for a lifetime: “Keep moving.” After every achievement growing up, graduation, marriage, job promotion, even retirement the best advice is, “Keep moving. Don’t stop. Don’t stagnate.”


There is more to life than you have found thus far. This is not the end; it is only the beginning. “Keep moving.”


When we approach life with this attitude, we look forward to the future and what God has in store for us.


LCDR Michael L. Schutz, CHC, USN


School will be back in session soon.  Kids go back to school and traffic here in Austin will of course get worse.  For some reason I miss those days of learning, cramming my brain with interesting, useful and useless information.  But I’m a dork and I LOVED school.  Most of you liked school or at least did well in school or you wouldn’t have become a dentist.


Did we stop learning at the moment we crossed the stage at graduation?  Absolutely not.  We have the opportunity to continue learning every day about dentistry whether it be about new innovative techniques, upcoming technology, advancements in materials, or how to approach a complex patient.  The avenues are endless.  Reading JADA or other publications, attending lectures, going to conferences, viewing webinars, finding a mentor, participating in local organized study clubs, even getting together with a group of your peers reviewing cases and discussing is an incredible way to learn and grow.


We have twelve mandatory continuing education (CE) hours required by the Texas State Board but there are many more hours of learning that we do whether or not it is certified CE.  Things like practice management philosophies, how to use new computer software, what’s the most efficient way to extract a tooth are things we don’t necessarily learn in class.  Sometimes we can best treat our patients and run our practices from asking questions of other dentists, specialists and representatives in the companies that we utilize.


At CADS we are deeply committed to serving our members.  In this coming year we are going to start a mentorship program, have a list of local study clubs posted on our website, start a HIPPA compliant discussion forum and pilot area specific CADS study groups.  We are very excited about these projects and if you would like to become involved please contact me at elysecronindds@gmail.com or call at 512-940-8267. Please visit our new and improved website often to see when these will become available.


Education is important because it keeps us thinking about better ways to do things.  At CADS we care about educating our members but also finding better ways to serve our members.  As Walt Disney said, “Keep moving forward.”


By Elyse Cronin Barron, DDS
CADS President, 2015-2016


Upcoming CE

Sep 15, 2015 – Ken Hargreaves – Pain/Endodontics

Oct 20, 2015 – Tito Norris – Orthodontics

Nov 17, 2015 – Bill Robbins – Periodontics

Jan 19, 2016 – Andrea Taylor – Somatoform Disorders

Feb 16, 2016 – Oscar Tamez – Airway Disorders

April 19, 2016 – Paul McLornan – Sleep Dentistry


President’s Message August 2015


Are you an activist?


Are you an activist?  Does the word activism have a positive or negative connotation when you hear the word?  Maybe it depends on your direct experience with activism, or your generational mindfulness.  Looking at the definitions of activism and traditionalist, I’m not sure I would consider myself in either category.  I do however love evidence and love research.

I pride myself on being a non-traditionalist, a non-conformist, on not following the masses in blind obedience.  Austin has a reputation for being a liberal hotbed here in Texas.  In fact, Austin prides itself on being progressive.  I attended the University of Washington in Seattle for my dental education and so I am a “transplant” here to Texas soil.  Over the years I’ve cultivated a great respect for the religious, political and cultural differences represented in Austin.  I may not always agree with people at church or a dinner party or even at a football game, but the wonderful thing is, we all have a voice.  It’s just a matter of if and how we choose to use it.

So what is the most controversial topic as a dentist in Austin?  Fluoride!  Yes, you get 10 bonus points for guessing it on your first try.  As a dental community we have been discussing, organizing, fighting and laboring over this topic for years.  Last year when it arose again I started to question all that I had been taught.  It seemed juvenile to repeat everything I was told 10 years ago.  What good is it to know quotes from a study 50 years ago?  Digging deep and becoming entrenched in the recent literature and research with an open mind, I found myself being led back to the evidence, good evidence, supporting fluoridation.  We all want to practice evidence-based dentistry, right?

There is education and there is experience.  We have all had experiences where you know fluoride has been central to the diagnosis.  It could have been a halt in the rampant deterioration of crown margins or the sad effect of living where fluoride wasn’t readily or available.  The other month I had to extract several baby teeth on an otherwise healthy seven year old.  Some of her baby molars were already beyond repair and she was in pain.  The mom doesn’t hold fluoride in high regard.  Respecting her right to parent didn’t mean I had to give up the obligation to let her know that her daughter’s cavities could have been prevented.  We had an open and frank discussion of what I thought led to her daughter’s condition.  As an individual’s doctor that’s what we can do, diagnose and try to prevent oral disease.  As a healthcare provider do we have an obligation to try and prevent it on a larger scale?

The extremists’ arguments are targeted at projecting fluoride as evil, poison, and detrimental at any level.  Let’s keep in mind that many things considered healthy in moderation are harmful in excess.  Vitamin C can cause kidney stones, headaches, insomnia, vomiting, and nausea.  Iron overdoses can cause cirrhosis, heart failure and diabetes yet it is still recommended, especially for pregnant women.  Yes fluoride in excess can cause some adverse effects but those effects are only seen in research with extreme cases of overt toxicity.  We all have sound scientific backgrounds even if we come from different parts of the country, different parts of the world.  Let us read and analyze the research to the best of our ability.  How do we want to care for our families, how do we want to care for our patients, our neighbors, our friends?  As a doctor, what would you recommend?  Let us stand up so that others may hear what our education and what our experiences lend us.  Let us be activists in that we ACT.

If you are inspired to get involved, the next City Council session hearing discussion points on fluoridation is on August 19th at 3pm at Austin City Hall.  There is a very real possibility of fluoride being taken out of Austin’s water supply.  One of the city council members, Don Zimmerman, brought the resolution himself to the Public Utilities Committee as a way to get the issue in front of the city council again.  Proponents of fluoride were not notified of the past meeting in June but will plan to be there at the August meeting.  Please contact Matt Heck or Elyse Cronin if you would like to speak or show solidarity in protecting our community.

By Elyse Cronin Barron, DDS
CADS President, 2015-2016