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‘The Past is Prologue’ -The Tempest, Shakespeare

As I begin my presidency, it is with great excitement and gratitude that I embark on this year-long journey, I am grateful for the thoughtful past leadership that has provided a strong base from which to grow. We had about 1,700 endodontist members in 1980-81 when I began, and now we are over 8,000. The past leaders provided foundational examples such as integrity, looking to the future and investing for the future of endodontics for those that followed. This has been realized in so many areas that are now, taken for granted, such as the Foundation or JOE. From these past legends, the future has continued to redefine the boundary of the edge we keep pushing.

In 1981, I once thought there was only one way to provide root canal treatment and be successful, but now there are infinitesimal numbers of ways, all documented in our evidence-based literature.  My own adaptation of new technology was never rapid, but rather “wait and see”.  I was always evaluating new things. In retrospect, using all the available evidence-based knowledge kept me centered and kept me from veering off of a predictable path to treatment success. This has led to where we are, but as I say that now, a new device or technique will be available tomorrow! Please be evaluative and look to the outcomes!

No first presidential message would be complete without a “thank-you” to all of the past presidents I have been with on the Executive Committee.  Drs. Terryl Propper, Linda Levin, Garry Myers and Patrick Taylor have all been instrumental in the guidance of the AAE and the development of the present strategic plan. In my first speech as president in Montréal, I pointed out that most of what we are using in governance, advocacy and outreach was started over five years ago and evolved into our present strategic plan. As an example, our most recent response to the Root Cause movie by Dr. Taylor was based on all three of our strategic goals: the importance of preserving the natural tooth, the partnerships endodontists have in the dental team and global leaderships as the experts in endodontics. In our recent response to The Atlantic magazine article, our core value of “Integrity” was used to clearly denounce all unethical behavior which is not representative of all dentists and especially endodontists.

In the same article, when unethical endodontic treatment by the general dentist became the target, our first and second goals of the strategic plan, “The public will value retaining natural teeth”, and “The dental profession will value endodontists as partners with advanced expertise….” were used to point out, there was a solution for patients desiring a second opinion! Seek the expertise of an endodontist, the experts in root canals!  Because the strategic plan was well thought out, we have had a beacon to guide us as we navigate the known and future unknown disruptors we encounter as a specialty.

One last thought I wish to comment on is our core value of “collegiality”. This is one thing that I think has really differentiated us as a specialty from others. Throughout my 38-year professional lifetime, I have witnessed debates among the “greats”, covering lateral condensation versus warm vertical condensation, apical barbarian versus pulp lover, fracture “necrosis” versus “save a tooth”! All of these debates could have been polarizing, but showed us all of the sides to an issue and then let us come back to defend our specialty as ONE specialty. We agree to disagree, and unite to serve. We are more alike than different. I hope this never changes.

I look forward to this coming year as President. In the last week of Dr. Taylor’s presidency, we received notification that beginning January 2020, we need to begin our re-certification application. The National Commission on Recognition of Dental Specialties and Certifying Boards will be sending out material in January 2020. This is a chance to assert our unique body of knowledge, research and philanthropy. Dr. Alan Gluskin will submit the final recognition document in September of 2020. One thing that always helps this process is exhibiting our volunteerism. I want to encourage our younger and older members to become active at their state and local levels. It isn’t too early or too late to volunteer for something. Get involved. (For volunteer opportunities, click here.) For those of you musically inclined, I hope to offer a chance to strut your stuff in Nashville. Stay tuned for that! Please have a safe summer.

In 2019, our dynamic past has become the present. In 2020, let us meet in Nashville to envision an exciting future filled with endless possibilities!