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Breaking Barriers: AAE Celebrates Advocacy Efforts and Victories

Merriam-Webster defines advocacy as the act or process of supporting a cause or proposal. The recent update of the AAE Strategic Plan has devoted a 4th stand-alone goal to advocacy: Advocate for quality endodontic care.

The third goal of the updated AAE Strategic Plan: Develop and maintain a body of knowledge to advance the specialty, will provide the basis for this advocacy, which will benefit our patients, our specialty, the dental profession all together. More outward facing efforts of advocacy will have communities of interest looking to the AAE for our position on matters related to oral and systemic health at a state and federal level. Advocacy efforts will also increase awareness of endodontics’ relevance to oral and systemic health. The more inward focus of advocacy are our efforts at optimizing coding and reimbursement for endodontic procedures as well as advocating that endodontic care performed by generalists be done to the same standard of practice as that performed by endodontists.

AAE has a skilled professional advocacy team headed by Catherine French, Assistant Executive Director for Advocacy and Professional Relations, and Darcy McLaughlin, Advocacy Manager. They are always hard at work, monitoring the legislative and regulatory landscape. Likewise, they keep my inbox filled with letters intended for U.S. senators and legislators, as well as state officials.

A recent advocacy endeavor had me in Chicago, along with Ms. French and AAE Executive Director, Mr. Ken Widelka, meeting with ADA leadership. The purpose of our meeting was to advocate for endodontists in particular, and dental specialists in general, to have a voice in the ADA’s new initiatives regarding, among other things, the use of AI in dentistry, in the ADA’s Strategic Forecasting Group, and in the development of new membership models. I will be accompanying the AAE Advocacy Team to Washington, DC (right before traveling to Los Angeles for AAE24) to attend ADA Dentists and Student Lobby Day on Capitol Hill. There we will be visiting our Senate and House member’s offices to be advocating for federal legislation that would prohibit dental plans from setting the fees in-network dentists may charge for services not covered by the insurance as well as policy that will ensure adult dental coverage for all Medicaid enrollees.

I would like to share with you some recent successes of our advocacy efforts as we continue to champion the interests of endodontists and advance the field of dentistry as a whole. In the past year, the AAE has been actively involved in numerous initiatives aimed at improving access to care and promoting technological advancements in dental practice.

One significant achievement is the enactment of the Dentist and Dental Hygienist Compact in Wisconsin. Thanks to the diligent advocacy work of the AAE, along with other stakeholders, Wisconsin has become the fourth state to adopt the Compact. This milestone will allow licensed dentists greater flexibility to practice in participating states, thereby reducing barriers to licensure and enhancing access to dental care for patients.

Building on this success, the AAE is actively advocating for the Compact in 10 additional states where model legislation has been introduced. From Colorado to Virginia, we have pledged our support for the enactment of this critical legislation and are working tirelessly to see it through. Already, we are seeing progress in several states, with legislation under consideration and support growing among lawmakers.

In addition to our advocacy efforts on licensure issues, the AAE has also been at the forefront of promoting technological advancements in dentistry. At the 2023 ADA’s House of Delegates, our representatives played a pivotal role in shaping policy related to DICOM (Digital Imaging and Communication in Medicine) standards. By providing expert testimony and advocating for a comprehensive evaluation of CBCT image sharing, we successfully influenced the House to adopt policies that prioritize interoperability and collaboration among dental specialty societies.

In the past year, the AAE joined in the advancement of dental loss ratio proposals in states like, Massachusetts, Nevada, and New Mexico. Particularly noteworthy was the implementation of the Massachusetts dental loss ratio law on January 1 – an advocacy effort led by the American Dental Association and local Massachusetts dental groups with additional support from the AAE. This success has spurred other states to follow Massachusetts’ lead. As consumers demand increased access to dental care and greater controls on insurance carriers’ profits, the AAE remains committed to advocating for dental loss ratio proposals, taking a proactive stance in favor of the proposal considered this year in states such as Missouri.

The AAE has taken a proactive approach in advocating for the profession by co-signing letters to Congress and other policy makers.

These letters address important issues and policies that impact the dental community and aim to ensure that the voices of dentists are heard at the legislative level. Joining others in organized dentistry and co-signing these letters, dentists and endodontists demonstrate a unified front and a commitment to promoting the best interests of patients’ oral health and the dental profession.

These achievements demonstrate the power of collective action and the impact we can have when we come together as a community. I want to extend my gratitude to all members who have contributed to our advocacy efforts.

You can stay up to date with AAE’s advocacy efforts by reading The AAE Advocate when it arrives in your inbox.  As we look ahead, expect more great updates on the ADA Lobby Day front — as well as with regards to Save Your Tooth Month proclamations.

As we celebrate successes, I encourage you to share any advocacy victories you have witnessed in your region, state, or community. Whether it’s expanding access to care or driving technological innovation, your stories inspire us all and strengthen our collective voice. Let our Advocacy team know at

Thank you for your continued dedication to advancing the field of endodontics and improving oral health care for patients across the country. The future is bright!