AAE: Always Advocating for Endodontists
One of the AAE’s core values is advocacy for the specialty of endodontics. But what exactly does that mean? In a broad sense, everything that the AAE does is advocacy as the entire organization is dedicated to supporting and advancing endodontics.
More specifically, the AAE’s advocacy efforts ensure that endodontists have a voice — in the legislature, within the dental community, and with dental insurers. This article will provide an overview of the AAE’s work in various arenas to protect the interests of our members.
The AAE lobbies elected officials and supports dentist-friendly candidates through our involvement with the American Dental Political Action Committee and the Organized Dentistry Coalition. By joining forces with the ADA and other dental specialties in these groups, we are able to have a larger and more influential presence in the legislature.
American Dental Political Action Committee
The AAE has a voting seat on the American Dental Political Action Committee board, currently held by Dr. Ali Behnia. ADPAC supports Congressional candidates who will be strong advocates for dentists and their patients. In the past two election cycles, ADPAC helped defeat well-financed primary challenges to both of the dentists currently serving in the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Paul Gosar and Rep. Mike Simpson.
Through ADPAC, the AAE collaborates with the ADA and other specialty dental organizations to create one unified voice of dentistry. The AAE Board actively supports ADPAC — 100 percent of the AAE Board members are ADPAC Capital Club members — and encourages all AAE members to do the same.
Organized Dentistry Coalition
The AAE is a member of and administers the Organized Dentistry Coalition, which includes senior staff from all nine dental specialties, as well as the AGD and the ADA. The ODC coordinates regularly on federal and state legislative advocacy issues so that dentistry interests are represented effectively and consistently.
The ADA sends requests through the ODC for specialties to “sign on” to letters taking a position on legislative and regulatory issues impacting dentistry. The AAE president, in consultation with the AAE Practice Affairs Committee chair, makes the final decision to “sign on” to ADA legislative advocacy. Recent examples include:
Ongoing efforts to repeal the medical excise tax.
Ongoing efforts to repeal the antitrust exemption for dental insurers.
Successful repeal of a provision in the Affordable Care Act that would have required businesses, including dental offices, to file a 1099 form with the IRS if payments made to another business for goods and services totaled $600 or more in a year.
Successful repeal of the onerous “red flag rules” as they apply to dental practices.
Advocacy Within the Dental Community
Advocating within dentistry is critical to the mission of the AAE; it ensures that endodontics is represented in the ADA and in activities that impact dental specialties. Much of the AAE’s advocacy work occurs within “organized dentistry,” the combined efforts of several groups including the ADA, the nine dental specialties and state dental associations. Examples of our participation in organized dentistry include the ADA Code Management Committee and the Commission on Dental Accreditation.
ADA Code Maintenance Committee
The AAE is a voting member of the ADA’s Code Maintenance Committee, which meets once a year to make decisions on proposed changes to the CDT code. The CDT code defines the procedures and services that dentists perform and is used by insurance companies to process claims. Working in conjunction with Dr. Kenneth Wiltbank, the AAE representative to the CMC, we ensure that the CDT accurately describes endodontic services.
The AAE has successfully advocated for the addition of several new codes, including:
New pulpal regeneration code.
New endodontic bone graft code.
New post removal code, to use with retreatment.
The inclusion of these codes will aid endodontists in their record keeping and analyses, and also helps make the case for dental insurers to cover such procedures.
Commission on Dental Accreditation
The Commission on Dental Accreditation is an important aspect of AAE advocacy because CODA establishes and implements the accreditation standards for dental education programs, including graduate endodontic programs. The AAE’s involvement in CODA assures that endodontic residents receive rigorous, up-to-date training before entering the field.
The AAE selects one of the 30 commissioners to CODA, who also serves as chair of the CODA Review Committee on Endodontics Education (ERC). Dr. William Schindler is currently in this role. CODA then appoints the members of the ERC, drawing from AAE and ABE nominations. The ERC is charged with reviewing proposed changes to the CODA endodontic standards and making recommendations. Before CODA approves the changes, they distribute the planned revisions to the communities of interest, including all program directors, for comment.
Recent revisions to the standards for which the AAE has successfully advocated include:
Elevating revascularization/regenerative endodontics to the highest instructional level and to the middle of three clinical training levels.
Elevating implant dentistry to the middle of three clinical training levels.
Instructional and clinical training levels correspond with the level of competence residents must demonstrate. Accordingly, the AAE advocates for skills and procedures critical to endodontics to be placed at the middle to high levels.
Dental Insurer Advocacy
Dental plan policies have a tremendous impact on endodontic practices, and the AAE is committed to maintaining an open line of communication with dental plan leaders. AAE leadership formally meets with dental directors from the major dental benefit plans every other year and is also involved with the American Association of Dental Consultants. A dental consultant is a dentist who reviews dental claims on behalf of a dental plan. Earlier this month, AAE President Dr. Robert Roda, AAE Vice President Dr. Terryl Propper, AAE CMC Representative Dr. Kenneth Wiltbank and AAE staff attended the 2014 AADC Annual Meeting in New Mexico. A summary of the meeting will appear in the June issue of the Communique.
Limits of AAE Advocacy
The AAE must comply with federal and state antitrust laws. As a result, the AAE cannot:
Discuss fees or payment policies with dental insurers.
Express an opinion on a fee reduction or payment policy change.
Advise members on contracting with a specific dental plan.
Advocate for restricting entry into the endodontic profession (e.g., fewer residency programs or smaller class sizes).
Advocating for endodontics is a priority for the AAE, but our success ultimately depends on AAE members participating in our efforts. Watch for next month’s feature article for ways that you can support the AAE’s advocacy initiatives and visit the AAE’s Advocacy webpage for more information.
What Does Advocacy Mean to You?
“Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.”
— Martin Luther King, Jr.
When I spoke to the General Assembly in Washington, D.C., upon becoming your President, I mentioned that we, the AAE leadership, are listening to our members’ concerns. One of the more formalized ways we do this is through our regular Member Needs Surveys. In the last two surveys, responses from our membership indicated two things: our members feel that advocacy is important, and the AAE has not fulfilled expectations in this regard.
I usually don’t get that complaint directly in one-on-one conversation with members (probably because they worry that I’ll give them a job to do), but the survey says it loud and clear. I wish we could tease some more information out of this area of the survey, but we don’t want to make the survey so complex as to increase your workload in filling it out. What are we not doing? What are we perhaps doing but not as well as we could? And what exactly do our members perceive as the level of effort and commitment that we should be putting into this arena? It all boils down to one question: What does advocacy mean to you?
I guess the first step towards answering that question would be to have some idea of what the AAE is doing. In another article in this issue of the Communique, many of our current advocacy efforts have been described so that you, the reader, can get a better picture of the scope of our work. But once you’ve looked at that, you may not be left satisfied. Your idea of advocacy may be that we should have fast-talking, buttoned-down lobbyists running around the U.S. Congress, Federal agencies and in all 50 statehouses, like Aaron Eckhardt’s tobacco lobbyist character in the movie Thank You for Smoking. This vision of advocacy does not reflect the reality of our political landscape for, despite what the media tends to portray as high comedy in our legislatures and Congress, most of our elected leaders are working hard to do their jobs and have very little time to really learn the ins and outs of the myriad of issues that comes before them. They rely on advocates on both sides of an issue to educate them.
For this type of advocacy (direct education of our political and government decision makers) we at the AAE generally rely on the ADA, one of the most effective health care advocates in the nation. One of the reasons for the ADA’s success relates to the fact that what is good for patients (read: voters) is almost always good for our members, and so, with our goals aligned, our altruistic message resonates with elected officials. It’s hard (and much more costly) for most business lobbies to compete with the ADA on an issue, since they are often looking out for their narrow business interests, while we are trying to enhance the health of Americans. The AAE and the ADA have aligned interests on just about every issue there is, so it is a natural fit for us to support their advocacy in politics.
That is why we encourage our members to support the ADA’s Political Action Committee (ADPAC) — so we can help to elect members of Congress who understand how important dental health is. That is why we encourage our members to sign up for the ADA’s political action network. Several times a year, members of the network receive an email at a critical time when our Representatives and/or Senators need to be both educated on the nature of an upcoming issue and also on the number of dentists that feel it is important. You have the opportunity to participate by hitting two buttons in the email, and hitting “Send” — that is the extent of your effort. In return, we speak loud and clear, and through this method have changed the course of large events that could have had a detrimental effect on our practices and our patients.
Maybe some of our members’ idea of advocacy would involve trying to limit the number of new graduates from residency programs or dental schools so we could decrease the competition for our existing members in the practice marketplace. Maybe they’d like us to negotiate with dental insurance companies on their behalf to raise reimbursements. Maybe to some, advocacy involves tracking insurance plans and telling our members where they get the best deal. Well, that’s never going to happen. The Federal government, through the Federal Trade Commission, classifies every one of our members as an individual business that should be in competition with every other endodontic practice/business out there. What if two big companies, for example, agreed that the price of gas would jump tomorrow to $10 per gallon, just so they can pay their shareholders a bigger dividend? You would scream and yell and send letters to the FTC to make it stop, and they would (hopefully) make it stop. The same antitrust laws apply in organized dentistry; if the AAE did anything to limit manpower in our marketplace or try to fix prices, the FTC would act (and has in the past against a state dental association) and the costs to the AAE would be ruinous. The leadership of our association simply will not let that happen.
So what can we do? A lot! If a state dental board makes a ruling that an endodontist cannot extract teeth or place implants, we can (and have) successfully lobbied for our patients’ interests. When a state passes an amendment to its Dental Practice Act allowing dental assistants to irrigate, dry and obturate root canals, we can work with the state AAE Affiliate and state ADA Constituent (and we have) to successfully lobby for our patients’ best interests. When a new CDT code is needed, we can help create it and explain it to the dental insurance industry, which is in our patients’ best interests. We can advocate with the ADA to keep our specialty recognized, which is in our patients’ best interests.
This is what we do best: Scan the environment, see what threatens our patients and then use whatever means we can to protect them. Whether we work through another organization like the ADA or a state AAE Affiliate, or whether we do it directly, the key is to always look out for what is best for our patients. I learned long ago, that when we act in our patients’ best interests, we are acting in our own best interests. I’m not always sure what advocacy means to every one of our members, but this is what advocacy means to me.
Decoding the Code: Scenario for Bone Graft in Conjunction With Periradicular Surgery
The 2014 CDT includes a new code for bone graft in conjunction with periradicular surgery (3428). For the Endodontists 2014 Guide to CDT, the AAE Practice Affairs Committee developed a new coding scenario to help AAE members and their staff understand the proper use of D3427 and related codes. For more information, see Section II, page 24 of the guide.
Seasoned Leader Steps into Foundation Presidency
The busiest volunteers make the best leaders, and Louis Rossman, D.M.D., is no exception to that rule. He has served as president of both the AAE and the ABE as well as on numerous other dental and community committees and boards. Dr. Rossman brings a unique combination of talents to the task of heading the AAE Foundation. He seeks a challenge, and when he encounters an obstacle, he meets it head on. His zest for life has led him to explore far-flung places and to discover new adventures of all kinds, and an ongoing appreciation for knowledge makes him a lifelong learner.
Meet new AAE Foundation President Louis Rossman!
Dental School and Endodontic Program: University of Pennsylvania
Relationships: Married to Val for 40 years. My daughter, Alexis, age 30, is an attorney and married to an attorney. My son, Ben, age 24, is presently teaching skiing to individuals with disabilities.
Pets: As, our golden retriever is 10 years old and Eddy (Fisher), our goldfish, is five years old (it’s a long story).
Roots for: Dartmouth Lacrosse
Who are your heroes?
My father, Sam Rossman. He was my partner and mentor. We were the first, and possibly the only, father and son to become Diplomates of the ABE together. My mother, Bea Rossman — if ever there was a Renaissance woman, my mother is that person. My wife, best friend and partner, Val. She is, among many other things, an accomplished and successful abstract artist. And my two children. Of course, I also have many professional heroes who affected my education, and I am fortunate to count some giants of dentistry among my mentors.
What motivates you?
Waking up every day. I love meeting people, talking to people and helping people.
Most important qualities for a leader?
To listen and try and implement ideas. People want to be heard and there are so many good ideas out there!
Something most people don’t know about you?
I love music, art and culture. I really do not follow everyday sports like baseball, basketball and football. I love skiing, biking, exercise, golf, mountaineering, fly fishing, gardening and the outdoors.
Something you wish more people knew about you?
I am very giving and honest in my approach to life and family. I am a very nice person!
Advice that you cherish?
“The world’s troubles are your troubles, but there is nothing wrong with the world that better human beings cannot fix." — President John Sloan Dickey, 1946 convocation at Dartmouth College
Advice would you give to new endodontists?
End each day smarter than you started and in better physical shape.
What is your vision for the AAE Foundation?
I want to involve young people. I also think that women have more answers than men and should play an integral part in the decision making of the Foundation.
What is your vision for the future of the specialty?
"The most good for the most people for the longest time."
-- Gifford Pinchot.
Isn’t a $28 million fund large enough? Why do we need to keep raising money?
Inflation, inflation and inflation. Research, travel, expenditures for educators are all increasing as is our overhead. We need to keep the pace. Future ideas will need to be considered and funded to advance our specialty.
Message to those who have pledged?
Thank you for what you have done, and remember us and consider us for future support. If nothing else, just help to explain our mission to your colleagues.
Message to those who have not?
Learn about the Foundation; it truly is the future of our specialty. Only the Foundation can help to support education and research. There is no other organization that will do this for you.
Story of your personal pledge?
I was asked to give years ago. I made a $2,000 pledge, but as I advanced in our organization, I realized that the hard work and efforts of this organization needed more support. In addition, I had the privilege of performing a root canal on Ambassador Walter Annenberg. One cannot charge a fee commensurate with closing an office for three mornings to perform endodontics, so in return for my services, the ambassador made a very generous gift to the Foundation. One might say that a record was then set for the largest amount ever paid for a root canal.
Most memorable clinical experience?
One was working on Ambassaador Annenberg. The other was doing root canal on a guard dog. The dog woke from his anesthesia, and I learned to run that day.
Milestones in your life?
My family and their development, chairing the I.B. Bender Division of Endodontics, serving as president of the ABE and the AAE.
High point of your career to date?
Getting a call from Herb Schilder on a Friday late afternoon asking if I wanted to serve on the ABE. I thought that he meant to call my father, but he said it was me he wanted to ask. Also giving my presidential speech at the Opening Breakfast of the 2009 Annual Session.
Most precious object?
I either have none, or I have too many.
My home — come sit in the backyard by the pool on a summer afternoon and you will agree.
Holiday you enjoy the most?
Thanksgiving and Passover. Both famous for food and drink.
Any Italian meal. Val's BLT pasta, great Italian bread, red wine and no cell phone.
Annual Session Recap: The AAE Takes D.C.
Even torrential rain in Washington, D.C., couldn’t damper the spirits of the nearly 3,700 attendees at the 2014 AAE Annual Session. The theme of the meeting was Striving for Perfection and it showed in every aspect, from the exceptional speakers and educational sessions to the impressive award receptions and events.
Check out the video highlights below and view more photos in the Annual Session online photo album. And make sure to save the date for the 2015 Annual Session in Seattle — May 6-9, 2015!
Thank you to our 2014 Annual Session sponsors:
DENTSPLY Tulsa Dental Specialties
J. Morita USA
Sirona Dental, Inc.
Henry Schein Dental | EndoVision
Treloar & Heisel, Inc. and Medical Protective
Legislators Share Insight at Advocacy Panel
The issue of endodontic advocacy was front and center at Annual Session during Advocating for Dentistry in D.C.: The Nuts and Bolts, a panel featuring special guests U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, Indiana State Rep. Dennis Zent and ADA Senior Vice President of Government and Public Affairs Michael Graham.
Joining them on the panel were AAE members Drs. Ali Behnia (the AAE’s ADPAC representative), Susan Wolcott and William Powell.
U.S. Rep. Gosar and Rep. Zent offered their perspectives as both dentists and elected officials. Emphasizing that legislators pay attention when they receive high volumes of communication, they encouraged attendees to contact their legislators about issues that affect dentistry. By subscribing to ADA Action Alerts, AAE members can receive notifications when such issues arise with sample email text to send to legislators.
Graham noted that organized dentistry has been effective in lobbying the legislature in the past because it “comes together” and speaks with one unified voice. When AAE members participate in the advocacy efforts by supporting ADPAC, reaching out to their legislators and learning about the issues, that voice becomes even louder and stronger. Said Graham, “If we’re going to be successful, it’s because we’re united and because you’re involved.”
Hail to the Chiefs: AAE Past Presidents Come Together at Annual Session
Approximately 15 AAE past presidents gathered at the Past Presidents’ Breakfast at Annual Session to discuss current issues facing the Association and its leadership. Past presidents have a unique and valuable perspective as people who have “been there” and successfully led the AAE through triumphs and challenges.
While the breakfast was primarily an opportunity for the past presidents to share their input and expertise with the current Executive Committee, there was also time to have a little bit of fun. Dr. Clara Spatafore, the organizer of this year’s event and a past president herself, created an entertaining slideshow of the past presidents’ wedding photos and challenged attendees to identify the people in each photo. The slideshow is now available to view on the AAE History webpage, along with other archives from the Association’s 70-year history.
“The Past Presidents’ Breakfast is always one of the highlights of the Annual Session for our returning leaders,” Dr. Spatafore said. “It gives us a chance for camaraderie, and to renew friendships, share family updates and stay abreast of what is happening at the AAE.”
Exhibitors Debut Cutting-Edge Technology at Annual Session
There’s no better place than the Annual Session Exhibit Hall — the largest endodontic exhibit hall in the world — for endodontists to explore state-of-the-art dental instruments and products. This year, attendees had the opportunity to try out an array of new, innovative technologies on display. New products making their debut at Annual Session included:
The Exhibit Hall was buzzing about Sonendo’s GentleWave cleaning system. “We have developed a device that is designed to clean the entire canal system — all canals simultaneously — in a matter of minutes,” said Leo Pranitis, vice president of sales and marketing for Sonendo. The GentleWave employs “multisonic ultracleaning,” a fluid-based system that uses multiple wavelengths of sound in various sizes to remove debris, decay and bacteria. Added Pranitis, “We’re able to realize a level of cleanliness that is not currently available in endodontics.”
Root ZX II OTR Module, J. Morita USA
The Root ZX II OTR Module from J. Morita brings together two instruments, the apex locator and the handpiece, in a unique way, allowing endodontists to prepare canals while simultaneously taking measurements. The advanced OTR technology also reduces file fatigue and the possibility of breakage. “It’s a quantum leap forward for endodontics with rotary instruments,” said Dr. Bill Choby, a general dentist and consultant for J. Morita who demonstrated the product at Annual Session.
ProTaper Gold, DENTSPLY Tulsa Dental Specialties
DENTSPLY’s ProTaper Gold rotary file builds on the well-known ProTaper file with new metallurgy that makes it more flexible and more resistant to cyclic fatigue. “You want confidence doing a root canal treatment,” said Bobby Morrow, senior category manager for DENTSPLY Tulsa Dental Specialties. “The last thing you want to worry about is if the file is going to break on you. We’ve taken a product that’s proven and we’ve made it better with the metal.”
CS 8100 3D and RVG 6200, Carestream Dental
Carestream Dental introduced two new products at Annual Session — the CS8100 3D, an easy-to-use 3-D imaging system that makes 3-D technology more accessible to endodontic practices, and the RVG 6200, a digital intraoral sensor with a simplified workflow. “Both of these products offer better image quality, better ease of use, more power and great affordability,” said Jordan Reiss, endodontic and 3-D imaging sales director for Carestream Dental.
tün Ultrasonic Tips, Engineered Endodontics
Engineered Endodontics’ tün Ultrasonic Tips provide an affordable alternative to expensive access and refinement tips. “tün tips only cost $20,” said Mark Fiorina, managing director for Engineered Endodontics. “Some lower-cost tips sacrifice performance, but these have performance on par with the industry.”
View New Patient Education Videos
New patient education videos on root canal treatment, retreatment and cracked teeth are now available for AAE members to watch, download and use on their practice websites and in offices and operatories. The videos feature 3-D animation and narration explaining popular endodontic procedures, and highlight the skills and expertise of endodontists. The videos are a free member benefit developed by the AAE’s Public and Professional Relations Committee as part of the AAE’s awareness campaign, Partners in Patient Care.
Member News: Dr. John Olmsted Speaks at University of Iowa
AAE Past President John S. Olmsted, D.D.S., M.S., spoke to residents and faculty at the University of Iowa School of Dentistry on April 8, 2014. His presentation, “Patient Management and Diagnosis in Private Practice,” provided an overview of private practice and unexpected issues that new practitioners may encounter. Using examples from his personal experience, Dr. Olmsted shared valuable tips for communicating effectively with patients and handling difficult situations with referring dentists.
In Memoriam: Dr. Adrian J. Sampeck
Adrian J. Sampeck, D.D.S., M.S., an AAE member since 1951 and a founding faculty member of the endodontics department at Baylor College of Dentistry, passed away on March 25, 2014.
Dr. Sampeck was one of the first practitioners of modern endodontics in Texas and had an active practice in Dallas for more than 60 years. He retired just three years ago. A veteran of the U.S. Army Air Corps, Dr. Sampeck earned two Silver Stars during World War II.
Dr. Sampeck is survived by his wife of nearly 70 years, Kathryne, seven children, 14 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Vaughn J. Clemens, Pennsauken, N.J.
Christopher J. Cook, Louisville, Ky.
Cristina Martinez, Arecibo, Puerto Rico
Arwa Siyam, Oakville, Ontario, Canada
Glenn A. Stockman, Carlsbad, Calif.
Volker Arendt, Ansbach, Germany
Christin M. Baker, North Beach, Md.
Christopher D. Bradley, Camp Lejeune, N.C.
Charles Chartrand, Granby, Quebec, Canada
Jeffery M. Clark, Fallon, Nev.
Darrell M. Curtis, APO, Germany
Amanda B. Eldelson, Philadelphia, Pa.
Michael Stephen Harrison, Jr., Hot Springs Village, Ark.
Elliott Low, Fremont, Calif.
James K.G. Mao, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
Stephen Park, Fullerton, Calif.
Jin Kyo Shin, Hwaseong-si, South Korea
Kazuaki Shinoda, Chiba, Japan
Alejandro Vargas, New Berlin, Wis.
Ibaa A. Afana, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Jose Flavio Affonso de Almeida, Piracicaba, Brazil
Diyar Khalid Bakr, Erbil, Iraq
Sin-Yeon Cho, Incheon, South Korea
Josef Gunther Diemer, Meckenbeuren, Germany
Sushma Prashant Jaju, Bhopal, India
Kee-Yeon Kum, Seoul, South Korea
Dongkyun Lee, Mokpo-si, South Korea
Siow Hooi Felicia Lim, Singapore
Carlos Augusto Morais Souto Pantoja, Piracicaba, Brazil
Helder Macedo Pavanelli, Brasilia, Brazil
Pablo Alejandro Rodriguez, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Hiroshi Takahashi, Yokohama City, Japan
About the Communiqué
The Communiqué is distributed four times a year in print and seven times a year electronically to 7,000+ AAE members. Its mission is to promote communication among AAE members, leaders of the AAE, ABE and AAE Foundation and AAE Affiliate organizations; encourage coordinated activities; inform the membership of developments in the endodontic specialty and dental profession; and raise awareness of AAE events, products and services. The AAE Membership Services Committee serves as the Communiqué Editorial Board. Visit www.aae.org/communique for back issues.