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How Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) Members Advocate for Patients

 

You may not be aware of this, but the AGD member dentist you see for semiannual check-ups may have a secret. A secret identity, that is—as a government lobbyist. Aside from root canals, fillings and oral health screenings, your dentist may lend his or her skills to a different profession. Some AGD members work with AGD staff to lend their opinions to complicated health legislation and visit Washington, D.C. annually to make sure your oral health is protected. Read on to learn more about how AGD members volunteer their time to make a difference in their patients' lives.

Roles on state dental boards

On their state dental boards, AGD members play a pivotal role in representing the interests of general dentists and their patients. The voice of the general dentist is crucial when state dental board members vote on the types of duties that the dental team can perform. For example, have you ever seen kiosks in malls that offer tooth whitening services? A dentist on a state dental board may oppose legislation that allows this practice, because the individual administering this potentially harmful procedure most likely does not have a dental degree.

In 2012, more than 80 AGD members served on state dental boards in 41 states—and they're in positions of power, too! AGD members also helped to elect a host of members to their respective state dental boards.

Lobbying on Capitol Hill

The AGD held its sixth annual A Great Dentist Goes to Washington government relations conference on April 16-17, 2012, in Washington, D.C., with more than 75 attendees from across the nation, including eight attendees from the American Student Dental Association and four from other allied dental groups. The conference resulted in 138 Capitol Hill visits. This annual event is designed for legislative chairpersons and other AGD members, who are interested in building their lobbying skills to become effective voices for themselves and their patients.

Tracking advocacy efforts

In 2011, the AGD tracked 304 unique pieces of legislation and 204 regulation changes in all 50 states. This led to the AGD providing 16 action alerts on 12 different issues. A total of 5,288 e-mails have been generated and sent to lawmakers because of these action alerts. What do these numbers mean? It means that AGD member dentists are working diligently with government officials to ensure that your oral health is protected. Consider AGD member dentists your "oral health advocates" in government.
Reviewed: August 2012
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