Looking Back, Looking Forward

It’s always exciting to start another year. I hope that in 2012 you, your family, and your dental career can build on the successes and challenges that were 2011.

Last year was many things for the Capital Area Dental Society. It was another year of growth in overall membership for CADS. We welcomed 74 dentists to our society. We also had several current members nominated for awards. Special congratulations again to Don Taylor and Eric Hollander for their nominations for Texas Dentist of the Year. Also, we were fortunate to have Ensy Atarod receive the Texas New Dentist of the Year Award, and Elyse Cronin took home the CADS New Dentist of the Year Award.

Financially, CADS has positioned itself very well. This good fortune has come our way because of the support of our members. Thanks to all of you who attended a CADS General Meeting or our John Kois Lecture last year. We are also positioning ourself for the future. While there is no immediate need or date set for a CADS central office, measures are being made to insure that we are fiscally ready when CADS’ growth dictates its necessity.

In 2011, the issue of water fluoridation arose in Austin. As the local dental society, we felt that it was important to take facts regarding this important dental public health measure to Austin’s City Hall. I would personally like to thank Barry Rouch, David Slaughter, Mark Peppard and Frank Bonasso for joining me and taking time from their practice to speak on benefits of water fluoridation. I am happy to report that we were successful and that your Austin City Council values our opinion as healthcare professionals. Even though we have been successful to this point, we know that water fluoridation could remain a topic of discussion locally. I would ask all of you to make yourself knowledgeable on the subject, not only for your patients, but also for your family, friends and fellow citizens of Austin.

Please make plans to attend the Capital Area Dental Foundation Gala on February 18th at the Four Seasons Hotel. Donations are still being accepted and raffle tickets are for sale for this great event. For further details please visit capitalareadentalfoundation.org. Hope to see you there.

Here are some dates to be aware of as you are planning your continuing education for 2012. Registration is currently open for the TDA Annual Session in San Antonio scheduled to be held May 3-6. Additionally, the Southwest Dental Conference in Dallas is set for January 12-14th and the Star of the South Dental Meeting in Houston is March 29-31st.

As we look forward into this year, I wish all of you the best.

Executing Plans

The Capital Area Dental Society has never been more active than it is now. Over the past several years your colleagues have committed substantial time and effort to make our organization the best dental society in Texas. The success of this group is no mistake. It came about through planning, organizing and ultimately, executing plans.

Many years ago a strategic plan was developed. Some of the highlights of that plan included increasing our charitable contributions, improving the quality of CE for our members, and increasing the visibility of CADS to the local community.

I am happy to say that we have met and exceeded the challenges set forth.

  • CADS now proudly has an active and growing charitable organization, the Capital Area Dental Foundation. The foundation has done many great things in a short period of time. They are currently raising money and looking for grants to help local citizens receive dental care they otherwise couldn’t afford. The presence of the foundation increases our exposure throughout the community and sends a message to the public that, as organized dentists, we care.
  • Most members are aware of the quality of CE that CADS consistently brings to Austin. Our General Meetings are the best attended local dental society meetings in the state, and possibly the country. We regularly have more than 100 dentists in attendance, and recently had almost 300 in attendance at our Kois all day seminar.
  • For multiple reasons, our visibility has increased in the community. I would like to spotlight the Dentists on Campus (DOCS) program. As part of this program, our member dentists are going into elementary schools to educate students on healthy living and dental hygiene. This year, the program was able to reach 3,900 children, making a difference locally.
  • An additional facet is our new Member Benefits program. This program is similar to TDA Perks but has a local flair to it. The companies participating in this program are: Peoples Pharmacy, ABC Home and Commercial Services, Russell Korman Jewelry, Austin Area Computers, Blue Sky Scrubs, The Steam Team. Every time you patronize one of these companies, there is a benefit for CADS and a direct benefit to you in the form of a discount.

We will be setting new goals this summer to reach even greater heights in the future. If you would like to be a part of our new strategic plan, now is the time to be heard.

It’s in the Water

Over the course of a dental career, our patients are capable of asking some interesting questions.  Most of the time the questions are appropriate and give us valuable teaching moments with our patients, while at other times you might get something that makes you scratch your head.  One day it is mercury in amalgam, and the next it is BPA’s in composite.

The question that Austin might be asking you today is about water fluoridation.  Is it good, is it bad, or is it too much of a good thing?  Historically, recommended fluoridation levels for drinking water ranged from 1.2-0.7 milligrams of fluoride per liter of water.  The range was based on temperature, with lower levels recommended in hotter climates with the expectation that more water will be consumed in those areas.  Earlier this year The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) lowered their recommended fluoridation level to 0.7 milligrams of fluoride per liter of water.  This updated recommendation is based on recent EPA and HHS scientific assessments that balance prevention of tooth decay while limiting unwanted health effects.  Locally, our levels did not change and remain at 0.7mg/L.

You might be aware that recently, Austin and more specifically the City of Austin’s drinking water has been targeted by a group known as the Fluoride Action Network (FAN).  The group is better known locally as Fluoride Free Austin (FFA).  These groups have a stated goal of eliminating fluoride from public water supplies.  The test markets for getting this movement started are Austin and San Francisco.

As you might expect the debate on water fluoridation can be a passionate endeavor.  According to the FFA’s website they believe that fluoride is a, “health-damaging hazardous waste toxin” and should never be added to water.   While on the other hand, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) list water fluoridation as one of the top 10 public health measures of the 20th century.

There are dentists and other well-educated individuals on both sides of this debate.  The ADA has a position on water fluoridation and encourages members to advocate fluoridation of water supplies.  This statement is the umbrella that carries the Association’s views of the topic, “The American Dental Association unreservedly endorses the fluoridation of community water supplies as safe, effective and necessary in preventing tooth decay. This support has been the Association’s position since policy was first adopted in 1950.”

As I write this, the City of Austin is reviewing its policy and standards on this matter.  Locally, there has been a great deal of debate at City Hall.  As the talks move forward, expect more media coverage locally and nationally.  Austin has become the battleground that could change the way cities view fluoridation of drinking water.  A quick internet search is all it takes to find more information on the topic.  There is a wealth of information available, however it often seems misleading and conflicting.  That is where you as a dental professional are invaluable.  Educate yourself so that you can educate your patients.

Installation of New Leaders and Board Members

Each year in May, the Capital Area Dental Society installs new leaders and board members to serve this great organization. This year I have the honor of serving as your CADS President. The leaders that have preceded my time in this role have been excellent mentors to me, and have provided a road map to continued success for this organization. Each year brings new faces to the organization and a new breath of enthusiasm, and this year is no different as we continue to welcome new dentists to Austin.

I encourage all of you to give something back to your profession. Dentistry allows us several methods for giving back, whether through time or money. I think you will find your reward is greater than your gift. If you would like to become more involved with CADS leadership, please contact me or any other board member and we would be happy to welcome you.

May was also a month of awards for the dental society. The CADS “Dentist of the Year” has been awarded to Dr. Eric Hollander. Dr. Hollander is a previous recipient of the “New Dentist of the Year” award and has served in a leadership role for CADS for almost 10 years, including being our Immediate Past President. Dr. Elyse Cronin has been awarded the CADS “New Dentist of the Year”, for her dedication and commitment to making our new dentist group the best one in the state.

I would also like to congratulate Dr. Lance Sanders who was elected by the SE Caucus at the Texas Meeting to serve as an ADA Alternate Delegate. Dr. Sanders is no longer the “man behind the man,” he is now the man to go to if you have questions about what’s going on at the ADA level.

Lastly, I want to thank our Executive Committee (Dr. Tom Wicheta—President Elect, Dr. Misti James—Secretary, Dr. Don Taylor—Treasurer, Dr. Kavin Kelp—Editor, and Ms. Nancy Nisbett—Executive Director).  As you can see, you have a great team leading the way. As Henry Ford said, “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.”