The year in review

The recent membership survey demonstrates that the ODA continues to be a successful and effective organization promoting the dental profession and oral health in Ohio. As dentistry continues to evolve, the ODA is addressing the various challenges facing dentistry by rolling out several new initiatives, including ODASC’s new group purchasing program (Ohio Discount Dental Supplies), ODASC’s in-office membership plan vendor endorsement and ODA’s new comprehensive regulatory compliance manual, all of which are designed to provide value to membership in organized dentistry. The ODA’s advocacy efforts remain strong and we continue to be a strategically-driven organization allowing the ODA to efficiently and effectively meet our members’ expectations.

Below is a review of some of our 2019 activities.

Membership Survey

In the fall of 2018, the ODA conducted a broad survey of its membership and the results have been compiled and were presented earlier this year to the Leadership Institute and to the ODA’s councils and committees for their review, consideration and, where appropriate, action. The extensive survey covers various aspects of the ODA and dentistry in Ohio, including: member priorities and overall satisfaction with the ODA, ODA Annual Session, ODA Leadership Institute, communications with and from ODA staff, ODA products and services, dental practice trends in Ohio, and the value of membership in the ODA.

The results were revealed during the 2019 ODA Leadership Institute. Lobbying on behalf of the dental profession and oral health, providing practice-related information, and monitoring the dental insurance industry continue to be the ODA’s highest priorities in the membership’s eyes. And the satisfaction rate for these areas continues to be very high.

  • A total of 94% of the respondents are “very satisfied” (58%) or “somewhat satisfied” (36%) with the ODA’s efforts in “providing members with information about issues affecting the practice of dentistry.”
  • A total of 89% of the respondents report being “very satisfied” (57%) or “somewhat satisfied” (32%) with the ODA’s efforts related to “lobbying on behalf of the dental profession.”
  • A total of 73% of the respondents report being “very satisfied” (34%) or “somewhat satisfied” (39%) with the ODA’s efforts in “monitoring the dental insurance industry and advocating for dental insurance benefits.”

New Programs

The membership survey also revealed interest in saving money on the purchase of dental supplies, assistance in developing and administering in-office membership plans for patients and assistance in complying with the myriad of laws and regulations that dentists face. Accordingly, the ODA Task Force on Dental Services Organizations and the ODASC Board have worked to develop three new programs that were rolled out this fall, including:

  • Group Purchasing Organization – ODASC is rolling out its Ohio Discount Dental Supplies (OhioDDS) program to allow ODA members to join a group purchasing organization in order to secure discounts on dental supplies.
  • In-Office Membership Plan Program – ODASC is rolling out its endorsement of DentalHQ to assist member dentists with their in-office membership plans for patients.
  • Regulatory Compliance Manual – The ODA has just released its comprehensive regulatory compliance manual, which will give ODA members a useful tool to assist them with all of their regulatory compliance needs.


Back in 2017, Rep. Theresa Gavarone (R-Bowling Green) and Rep. Anthony DeVitis (R-Green) introduced House Bill 184, which is the ODA’s latest access to dental care initiative. This comprehensive legislation was designed to: (1) update Ohio’s dental laws to allow for the use of tele-dentistry to extend care into underserved areas of Ohio, (2) double the capacity of the Ohio Dentist Loan Repayment Program, which provides incentives for dentists to practice in designated underserved areas in Ohio, (3) create primary care dental student scholarships within the Choose Ohio First Scholarship Program providing scholarships for dental students who agree to practice in designated underserved areas upon graduation, (4) enhance the ability of existing dental auxiliaries to provide preventive dental services in schools and other public health settings, and (5) promote licensure portability by having Ohio accept the results of all regional clinical dental licensure exams. House Bill 184 passed the Ohio House of Representatives by a 91-6 vote. The Senate rolled the provisions of House Bill 184 into an unrelated bill, Senate Bill 259 and passed it by a 31-0 vote on Dec. 13, 2018. Then-Gov. John Kasich signed Senate Bill 259 into law on Dec. 19, 2018. The law became effective in March 2019. The Ohio State Dental Board is currently promulgating rules to implement this new law.

Over the last few years, outside foundations and special interests have pushed the concept of dental therapists in Ohio. The ODA opposes the creation of dental therapists in Ohio because the concept would potentially allow under-trained personnel to perform irreversible surgical dental procedures, divert funds away from other proven approaches such as a fully-funded Medicaid dental program, and create statutory and legal challenges that will delay care to Ohioans. Dental therapy legislation has been introduced at the Ohio Statehouse in each of the last three sessions of the General Assembly but because of the efforts of the ODA advocacy team and its member dentists in educating policymakers on the folly of dental therapy, the legislation has not passed. No legislation on dental therapists has even been introduced in 2019.

On May 13, 2019, Sen. Kirk Schuring (R-Canton) introduced the ODA-backed Senate Bill 148, which would prevent dental insurance companies from setting the prices that dentists charge for non-covered services. Senate Bill 148 is currently pending before the Senate Insurance and Financial Institutions Committee and has had three separate hearings with more action expected in 2020.

The Ohio State Dental Board is reviewing and revising its rules related to specialty recognition and advertising. The ODA commissioned an independent survey of the public to determine current attitudes and understanding of dental specialties in Ohio and the potential for the public to be misled to their detriment by false claims of specialty. The results of the survey were presented to the OSDB for its consideration in drafting the new specialty advertising rules.

Access to Care and Public Service Programs

The Council on Access to Care and Public Service continues to work to address access to dental care issues across the state in numerous ways. ODA member dentists continue to demonstrate their generosity and compassion by providing care to underserved Ohioans.

More than 150 GKAS events were held in Ohio in 2019, with more than 38,000 Ohio children receiving screenings, treatment and/or oral health education. Ohio dentists provided more than $1.5 million in free dental services to Ohio children through GKAS events over the last year.

Seven dentists are currently practicing in underserved areas taking advantage of the Ohio Dentist Loan Repayment Program and up to six more dentists will likely participate in the ODLRP in 2020. The ODLRP was created when the Ohio General Assembly passed the ODA-backed Dental Care Improvement Act in 2003. The program provides loan repayment assistance for dentists who agree to locate in designated dentist shortage areas and treat Medicaid and other low-income Ohioans. Since the program’s inception in 2005, a total of 31 dentists have participated in the program and they have collectively provided more than 203,000 patient visits for underserved Ohioans. In 2019, the ODLRP portion of the fees dentists pay for their licenses will increase to double the capacity of the ODLRP program.

The ODA Foundation awarded $157,000 in grants and scholarships in 2019. The Foundation provided a total of $93,500 in grants to 20 non-profit organizations and educational institutions, including several safety net clinics, for programs providing access to dental care for the underserved. Additionally, the ODA Foundation provided a total of $63,500 in scholarships to worthy dental students to assist with their educational expenses as they pursue their dreams to join the dental profession. The Foundation is only able to make these grants and scholarships because of the generous support of ODA member dentists. Thank you!!

Events – Annual Session and Leadership Institute

The October 3-6, 2019 ODA Annual Session offered high quality continuing education opportunities, an impressive Exhibit Hall with nearly 240 booths, and other valuable opportunities for professional growth and fellowship. This year’s highlights included high quality speakers from the Pankey Institute and the Madow Brothers. More than 4,000 attended the 2019 ODA Annual Session, including nearly 1,200 dentists and hundreds of dental hygienists, dental assistants, front desk staff, and office managers. Attendee surveys indicate all aspects of the meeting received high marks, including CE courses, the Exhibit Hall and other events.

On March 15-16, 2019, the ODA hosted a successful Leadership Institute in Columbus, which was attended by more than 250 member dentists. The goal of the event is to provide valuable information and skills that can assist member dentists in their personal lives and dental offices, and with their community involvement. This year’s session – “Aim High, Soar High” – featured a keynote presentation by ADA Vice President for Government and Public Affairs Mike Graham who discussed the current political climate in Washington, D.C. Leadership Expert Robert Stevenson gave a keynote presentation on “The Leadership Formula.” Dr. Purnima Kumar, who teaches in the Periodontology Department at The Ohio State University College of Dentistry, updated the attendees on research related to the oral health implications of e-cigarettes. Past ADA President Dr. Joe Crowley and current ADA Seventh District Trustee Dr. Billie Sue Kyger gave an update on the ADA and national trends in dentistry. Breakout Sessions covered the power of advocacy and an update of dental insurance issues in Ohio. According to participant surveys, which were overwhelmingly glowing, the Leadership Institute continues to meet its goal of providing dentists with valuable information for use in a variety of settings.


2019 was another successful year for the ODA. In fact, the most recent membership survey revealed that 93% of ODA members say that the ODA is “on the right track.” We will work to make 2020 even better.