As we enter the final month before our annual meeting, I am more confident than ever that our profession remains devoted to our role in oral health and improved patient well-being. In the past year, I had the opportunity to work on behalf of AAE to establish first-hand relationships with the international endodontic community. We are expecting members from the European Society of Endodontology, The Canadian Academy of Endodontics, and speakers from Pan Endo meeting that met in Cairo to join us and present in Nashville. These collaborations ensure strong standards and continued innovation for endodontics. A new event at this year’s meeting is the International Summit, which will give all of our members an opportunity to join in dialogue with our international colleagues.
The greatest advances in patient care have been due to advances in technology. In my professional lifetime, I have seen ultrasonics introduced in the early 1980s, and even attempts at rotary or reciprocating carbon steel or stainless steel instruments for instrumentation, only to watch them miserably fail due to repeated instrument separation. Then the metallurgy changed and we were introduced to nickel titanium files and we were opened to whole new way of cleaning and shaping. Then we were introduced to magnification with microscopes with superior light sources and saw canals we were only imagining without the focused light. Now we have 3D imaging with FOV-CBCT that shows us that what we were imagining before, wasn’t all there is and in fact there was even more. Undoubtedly, we will see more new technologies in the future that will startle us all.
In light of everything we have accomplished as a profession to improve patient health, it’s disappointing to have moments that divide us instead of celebrate the power of partnership. Most of us are trained as medical professionals, not engineers. We need partnerships to move our profession forward technologically, but it is up to us to be critical consumers of technology with a focus on best practices for patient care. My observation over the past 40 years, is that given time, the science, the market, and our dedicated endodontic colleagues who have devoted their lives to patient care will decide what is beneficial and what is not. We will settle on what is the best evidence.
We do face other challenges as a profession as more generalists engage in endodontic work, but this is where our collaborations as a unified AAE will serve us well as we communicate with strong voice on behalf of our profession, the single standard of care. We are presently taking major efforts to keep our specialty strong because it is time again to reapply for certification as a specialty. We began our process of recertification in January, with our Special Committee on Periodic Review consisting of Drs. Alan Law, Linda Levin, Gary Hartwell, and Sandra Madison, along with Srini Varadarajan and Trina Andresen Coe. They have begun the initial process and will wrap things up by our deadline September 2020. Our progress towards recertification as a specialty will be monitored closely and you will be kept informed using our electronic media and in our relaunch of the Connection.
Another major aspect to protecting our profession is to have an invigorated American Board of Endodontics, which we definitely have. One part of the recertification process is reporting the number of Diplomates in the specialty. The changes that began in the boarding process in the early 2000’s have resulted in the number of Diplomates increasing from 17% when I was president of ABE in 2007 to 33% now in 2020. The Directors of the ABE continue to look at ways to facilitate more diplomates without diluting the process. The recent announcement by Dr. Sigurdsson regarding the reduction of the number of cases for submission to five is an example of eliminating a road block to Board Certification. Thank you, ABE!!
In my 40 years as an endodontist, I have been inspired by the important shift to consider outcome criteria from the eyes of the patient versus the eyes of the clinician. Now we include “survival” (patient centered) as well “success” when we are evaluating outcomes. The discovery of “best evidence” would probably not have occurred without our Foundation for Endodontics backing pilot studies by hundreds of residents each year and then subsequent follow-up studies. The importance of our Foundation in providing “seed” money for our residents to explore various clinical questions cannot be understated. For over 30 years, the Foundation has been instrumental in supporting all research, academic fellowship, academic retention, community outreach and newer regenerative treatment techniques. Over the past five years, Outreach to underserved communities has made significant improvements in patient oral health. The Foundation is YOUR investment in the future of endodontics as a specialty. A gift to the foundation is not simply a donation, it is an investment in your professional legacy and the future health of your children and grandchildren. To this point, to all of you have been as blessed as I have, I ask you to consider a bequest equal to what you have given or $25,000, whichever is greater. Hopefully the Foundation doesn’t need my bequest too soon but it is what I want for the profession.
It has been my honor and a height of my professional career to serve as an advocate and cheerleader for our profession. My sincere wish is that this work may play a role to enable all of you to provide better endodontic care than ever before and I wish you all tremendous success!