“Why join organized dentistry?”

It’s a question I have heard many times during my short time in practice. Usually asked by an enthusiastic new graduate wondering how to get involved or a more cynical seasoned doc really asking “why spend the money?” My answer always centered on the community organized dentistry offered with a brief mention of advocacy.

To be honest, most of the advocacy part of organized dentistry seemed like a political drama on TV with little bearing on my life or practice. It happened slowly, out of the headlines, and with little impact on patient care. Enter the COVID pandemic. I am still stunned when I look back at how quickly life changed; how quickly dentistry changed. The slow, mundane process of regulatory change was anything but. It seemed every time I finally understood a guideline, recommendation or mandate it was outdated.

I could not be more thankful for the ODA and ADA. The phone calls, webinars, and publications helped navigate all of the new regulations. More importantly, their advocacy efforts to keep us open, get vaccines quicker, and return to normal operations sooner are invaluable. Advocacy, which was a footnote in my reasoning for joining originally, I now realize is the cornerstone of organized dentistry.

So what? Why am I writing this?

Our organization is only as strong as our membership. For brand new dentists, recently graduated or about to graduate, I am sure joining the ODA is far from the top of their to-do list. It’s important for all of us to use the lessons we learned this year and pass them on. Emails and publications are great, but nothing is better than a word from someone with a few years of experience. So, reach out to new graduates that you know and show them how important organized dentistry is to protect their careers and to help maintain a high level of standards within our industry and service to our patients.