May 2019 Volume LIV Number 3


What Do the AAPD and Organized Dentistry Do for Me? What is Membership Value?

March 2014 Volume L Number 2

 These are questions I have been hearing ever since I became a dentist, and then a pediatric dentist and then an officer of the Academy. It makes me realize that the AAPD does an excellent job of servicing its membership (VALUE), but could do a better job of letting members know the answer to the questions. This also applies to other dental membership organizations, but I will confine my remarks to the AAPD.

 I trust that all of us are familiar with the Reference Manual. We all know that it helps set the standards of care for the children we serve. However, many of you may not realize that the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) National Guideline Clearinghouse (NGC) has adopted 24 of our guidelines for national usage, with more expected in the future. This is very prestigious for the Academy and is reflective of the knowledge and expertise of many of our members. It means that all oral health care providers, either directly or indirectly, look to the Academy for the best information for the care of children.


The Reference Manual is our flagship publication in this area and is available to anyone who wishes to see it, dentists, other professionals, governmental officials, parents, etc. on our website at Since being installed as AAPD President, I have been interviewed many times by print, electronic, radio and television media and in every instance, my responses to questions were made easier by citing the Reference Manual.


Organizationally, input for the Reference Manual mainly comes from two sources: the Council on Clinical Affairs and the Council on Scientific Affairs, with corollary input from the AAPD Pediatric Oral Health Research and Policy Center (POHRPC). The individuals within these groups function in the real world of direct patient care and relevant scientific and clinical research and policy.


This leads to a discussion of what the various councils and committees do for you. And please keep in mind that all members of councils and committees are member volunteers who give up time from their professional and personal lives when they participate.


I will go through the listing, highlighting some of the more salient contributions of these groups.


The Scientific Program Committee of the Council on Annual Session is chaired by Dr. Carlos (Charlie) Bertot. Charlie and his co-members not only recommend speakers, but also vet all suggestions from the membership and select the various venues during the session.
 The Council on Scientific Affairs is chaired by Dr. Martha Ann Keels and the Council on Clinical Affairs is chaired by Dr. Sara Filstrup. I highlighted the role of the Reference Manual in our everyday practice lives and its importance across many disciplines. What you see in the manual is a result of the Council on Scientific Affairs evaluating the research that is basic to clinical practice and the Council on Clinical Affairs making sure that the application of the science is clinically relevant and applicable. The entire process is undergoing a revolution, as they, with the help of the Pediatric Oral Health Research and Policy Center, are reviewing and developing all the guidelines on evidencebased principles. These processes are now the standard of all clinical practice, be it dentistry or medicine.


While there are several committees within the Council on Clinical Affairs, I would like to specifically mention the Committee on Sedation and Anesthesia, chaired by Dr. Sarat (Bobby) Thikkurissy and the Task Force on Sedation Education chaired by Dr. Steve Wilson. With the new requirements of the ADA Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) that all pediatric dental residents perform 25 sedations and assist in 25 others, it is imperative that not only do programs have qualified instructors but that the regimens utilized are clinically valid. These two groups complement each other and the result of their work extends far beyond the years of resident training.


The Council on Continuing Education is chaired by Dr. Brian Beitel. This council works in concert with the Scientific Program Committee planning the courses for annual session. They also make sure all of the continuing education courses offered by the Academy are relevant and properly coordinated. Our flagship course, the Comprehensive Review of Pediatric Dentistry, always attracts a large audience who come away from it with an expanded knowledge base and increased enthusiasm for treating their patients.


The Council on Dental Benefit Programs (chair Dr. Paul Reggiardo) and the Council on Government Affairs (chair Dr. Beverly Largent) have separate missions, but also many instances of overlap. Government Affairs plans our legislative agenda and coordinates our annual Capitol Hill visitation, where we visit with legislators to advance our health care agenda. And during the course of the year, our Congressional Liaison, former AAPD President Dr. Heber Simmons Jr., makes eight trips to Washington each year and visits with key Senators and Representatives to explain the need for bills to help us—as Heber says to everyone he meets—"take care of the children."


Dental Benefits makes sure that industry groups know the basic coverage children need and also interacts with the ADA Code Maintenance Committee to make sure that the Code on Dental Procedures and Nomenclature, known as the CDT, accurately reflects current clinical pediatric dental practice. Since Medicaid dental coverage in many states is administered by private subcontractors, both of these councils keep track of procedures and processes so that the children covered by Medicaid get their full benefits.


Dr. Paula Coates chairs the Council on Membership and Membership Services, which also includes the New Pediatric Dentist Committee, the Pediatric Dental Resident's Committee and Committees on Communications and Inter-Professional Relations. As the future of our profession depends upon involved and committed young people, they develop programs to help meet this need. Not only do they make sure that the New Dentist Reception is a success so that networking among colleagues can occur, but also that there is a course specifically designed for the new dentist during annual session.


In my opinion, the Council on Pre-Doctoral Education (chair Dr. Homa Amini) and the Council on Post-Doctoral Education (chair Dr. Erwin Turner), are the backbones of our profession. We all first had to learn to be "general dentists", i.e., dental students, and then pediatric dental residents before we could announce that we were specialists in the oral health needs of children. These two councils make sure that training programs know the basics that are needed for a general dentist to treat children and the advanced techniques needed by a pediatric dentist to take that treatment to a higher level when needed. The lynchpin of both are their suggested reading lists.


And lastly, to showcase our volunteer members, I would be remiss if I did not mention our two esteemed journals: Pediatric Dentistry and the Journal of Dentistry for Children. Dr. Sue Seale and Dr. Marcio da Fonseca, the respective editors of these publications, review all manuscripts, coordinate with their editorial staffs and publish articles that enable us to be current with treatment modalities and the science behind them.


As you can see, the activities of the Academy are many and varied, with each entity contributing to the member value we all enjoy and may not even be aware of.


But, as you may have surmised, I left out the "yin" to the aforementioned "yang": our excellent headquarters staff. There are over two dozen people who make the Academy function like a well-oiled machine.
We know Dr. John Rutkauskas, our CEO, and Scott Litch, our COO and general counsel, by the articles they write for each issue of Pediatric Dentistry Today. They are backed by a staff second to none.


The departments of the Academy parallel the councils and committees, in order that day to day activities run smoothly. Dovetailing with the Academy is our very successful Foundation, Healthy Smiles, Healthy Children, headed by Senior Director of Development and Charitable Programs Paul Amundsen. The Foundation, aided in large part by generous donations of our members, provides grants to organizations and clinics that result in increased access to care and treatment for thousands of underserved children across the nation.


Additionally, we have established within the Academy the Pediatric Oral Health Research and Policy Center (POHRPC), whose director is former AAPD President, Dr. Paul Casamassimo. The POHRPC not only publishes technical briefs and analyses of current trends, it also secures grants for research that complement and interface with many council and committee activities. An example of one of these briefs is that on Patient-Centered Care. This addresses the topic of patient-centered care in the context of increasing rates of dental caries in pre-school children, limited resources and a potential increase in patient demand due to the Affordable Care Act.


In conclusion, I would like to emphasize something that you may not realize. Due to the scrupulous diligence of our senior executive staff, coordinated with the Budget and Finance Committee, we have more than one year's operating expenses in reserve. Translated, that means if no dues, meeting, or advertising revenue was received for one year, the Academy would be able to function normally for over 12 months.


The second amazing fact is that our dues have not increased in eight years. I will repeat that: with all that the Academy does, our dues have not increased in eight years!


And what else do we do that provides member benefit/value with no dues increase? There are two that must be mentioned: our $500,000 contribution to the Ad Council Campaign to increase the dental IQ of Americans, which started with the 2MIN2X messaging for children to brush twice a day for two minutes at a time.


And a three-year, $3 million consumer campaign by Weber Shandwick to increase the awareness of pediatric dentistry and pediatric dentists, starting with the tagline added to our logo, America's Pediatric Dentists: The Big Authority on Little Teeth. And, with no increase in dues or special assessment! So, my fellow Academy members, what does the AAPD do for you? What membership value does it provide? In short, more than you likely ever imagined and everything to make your professional life easier and more meaningful while enabling what you need to do in order to provide the very best in pediatric oral health care.