ADA unveils redesigned website


The ADA launched a completely revamped and restructured website designed to help members explore easier and faster, whether through a desktop computer, tablet or smartphone.

The new, along with its suite of professional websites including ADA Foundation, ADA Center for Professional Success and ADA Business Resources, went live on April 30 and is the culmination of over a year of research and development.

“Searching on the previous was more complicated, and there were several unique websites for different services that the ADA provides. It took a long time to navigate for members and was more challenging to maintain,” said Dr. Sally Hewett, chair of the ADA Council on Communications, which oversaw the new website’s development.

Work on the new website involved all ADA divisions and major collaboration of Association staff and leaders who all had one goal in mind: enhance with the member in mind.

“The new provides a single resource to access all the online content for the ADA,” Dr. Hewett said. “Users will easily notice the tabs for choosing the categories to quickly find the information they are seeking.”

The revitalized website offers improved tools and resources for both dentists and patients, including a “My ADA” feature that allows members to update their contact information and displays items related to their activity with the ADA.

Other features of the new include:

  • an expandable navigation menu that makes exploring easier by allowing visitors access to different sections of the website in just one click;
  • easy access to content from the Journal of the American Dental Association, ADA News, upcoming events and news releases;
  • an Action for Dental Health map, where dentists can find information and monitor progress on Action initiatives, including Give Kids A Smile programs;
  • brief descriptions of an activity or resource appearing when visitors scroll the mouse over certain pictures and images.

In addition, as more people utilize mobile devices to get connected online, the new website has been designed to be viewed easily on tablets and smartphones. was last redesigned in 2010.

To support the website redesign, market research planning for the revised began in May 2013. An external research firm conducted qualitative focus groups to test various design concepts with member dentists and reviewed content, features and organization.

Findings from the focus groups were used to craft a quantitative survey. The online survey was fielded in August 2013 to member dentists and dental students who weighed in on the website’s design and features. The findings were used to develop the final design of the website.

New features and functionality will continue to be added over the next several months. In time, the ADA will conduct further research to assess the website’s functionality.

“We will always be looking for input on improving the website, and look forward to supporting our members and the public,” Dr. Hewett said.

Members who have questions and comments on the new website may call the Member Service Center at the toll-free number or email

ADA unveils new Division of Member and Client Services

In an effort to continue providing ADA members a great set of products and services, the ADA welcomed the newly organized Division of Member and Client Services.

Formerly known as the Membership, Tripartite Relations and Marketing Division, DMCS completed an extensive internal review to reorganize the existing staff into an operating structure that ultimately hones in on the ADA’s renewed focus: the members.

“The dental profession is best served by a vibrant, influential and visionary professional association. The greatest opportunity the ADA has in the near future is to provide a great set of products and services to member dentists, backed by spectacular service at all levels of membership—the national, state and local,” said Dr. Kathleen O’Loughlin, ADA executive director.

“If we do this well, we will reverse our declining member market share nationally and be in a position to best serve our profession. In order to accomplish this, the ADA needed to structure its Membership Division to enable talented dedicated staff to succeed in a challenging environment.”

As part of the reorganization of the new division, all member outreach activities—Dental Society Outreach, Dental School Outreach and Office of Student Affairs, Association and Direct Member Outreach and the Leadership Team Services—are  now coordinated under a single new department set to create closer coordination in how the ADA provides outreach services to all members.

To help the outreach team deliver member and client services, staff leadership from the Council on Members Insurance and Retirement Plans and the Council on Membership will be joined together on an interim basis.

The reorganization also includes the creation of the new Department of Membership Planning, Data Analytics and Dues Processing, which will integrate critical data management, membership data analysis and member marketing under a single umbrella.

Meanwhile, the New Dentist Committee is being repositioned as a new standalone department to better function at a more strategic level as a committee of the ADA Board of Trustees. The Member Service Center will maintain its front line responsibility for member calls and service contact.

For more information on the new Division of Member and Client Services, email Dr. Anthony Ziebert, interim senior vice-president of Member and Client Services, at

ADA, leading health groups urge MLB, Players Association to ban tobacco use at ballparks

The American Dental Association joined eight other major medical and public health organizations in urging Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association to prohibit tobacco use at ballparks and on camera, prompting a response from MLB Commissioner Bud Selig.
The organizations wrote a letter to MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark and Mr. Selig following the death of baseball legend and Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn. He was 54.
“We are deeply saddened that his life was ended far too soon by cancer that he attributed to his longtime use of chewing tobacco,” the June 24 letter stated.
“Major League Baseball and the Players Association can honor Tony Gwynn’s memory by agreeing to a complete prohibition on tobacco use at ballparks and on camera. Our organizations urge you to do so without delay.”
The ADA, American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, American Medical Association, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Legacy, Oral Health America and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation signed the letter.
However, Mr. Selig, who responded to the groups’ letter on June 30, said that while MLB is doing everything possible to eliminate smokeless tobacco from baseball, its hands are tied from completely implementing a ban.
The health groups had said in their letter to MLB and the Players Association that the use of smokeless tobacco endangers the health of baseball players.
“It also sets a terrible example for the millions of young people who watch baseball at the ballpark or on TV and often see players and managers using tobacco,” the letter said.
Mr. Selig said that in the last round of collective bargaining, MLB proposed a complete prohibition on the use and possession of smokeless tobacco.

“The regulation of the use of tobacco products by Major League players is a mandatory subject of collective bargaining with the Players Association,” he said in his response.

“Both the Players Association, and the players who attended the bargaining sessions, were firm in their view that the players would not agree to a ban on the use of smokeless tobacco because, as adults, they have the right to make their own choices,” he said.
However, the players were sensitive to the concerns that visibly using smokeless tobacco during games sent the wrong message to the youth, Mr. Selig said.

In 2011, MLB and the Players Association agreed to impose limitations on where and when smokeless tobacco may be used or carried. Players, managers and coaches are prohibited from using smokeless tobacco during televised interviews and club appearances. They are also required to conceal tobacco products when fans are in the ballpark.
The health groups said in their letter to MLB and the Players Association said the agreements “are not sufficient to eliminate smokeless tobacco use in public settings or to prevent more players from becoming addicted to these deadly products.”
In his response, Mr. Selig said that although the Players Association does not have a legal obligation to bargain with MLB over the topic until the current collective bargaining agreement expires in December 2016, the union has agreed to meet MLB and determine whether the views of its membership have changed since 2011.
According to, the ADA’s consumer website, chewing tobacco can harm a person’s health because it contains toxins, which can cause gum disease. Other possible oral health impacts of tobacco products include: stained teeth and tongue; dulled sense of taste and smell; slow healing after a tooth extraction or other surgery; difficulties in correcting cosmetic dental problems; and oral cancer.
For additional information on smokeless or chewing tobacco, click here.

Dr. Connie Drisko, GRU dental school dean and Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations chair, dies at 73

Dr Connie Drisko
Dr. Connie Drisko

Augusta, Ga.—Dr. Connie Drisko, the chair of the Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations, died June 22 after a short battle with acute myelogenous leukemia. She was 73 years old.
A 1980 graduate of the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Dr. Drisko spent over three decades as a leader in the dental profession and education.
“Dr. Drisko led the (Georgia Regents University) College of Dental Medicine through a remarkable period of growth,” said Gretchen Caughman, GRU executive vice president for academic affairs and provost. “She was a remarkable leader, and an unwavering advocate for dentistry and dental education. Connie’s spirit will be greatly missed.”
Dr. Drisko became the college’s third dean in 2003. Under her leadership, she oversaw construction of a new state-of-the-art clinical facility. The facility opened in 2001 with 316 clinical operatories, simulation labs and clinics for junior and senior dental students.
In addition, the college twice received accreditation by the Commission on Dental Accreditation and has been nationally recognized for student diversity programs that prepared under-represented minority and low-income students for dental practice.
In 2012, Dr. Drisko received GRU’s inaugural employee Diversity Award for promoting and enhancing diversity among students, faculty and students since she became dean.
“Connie’s passion for the College of Dental Medicine and dentistry in the state of Georgia was evident to everyone she met,” said Dr. Carol Lefebvre, who succeeded Dr. Drisko as dean and who served as associate and vice dean under Dr. Drisko for seven years.
“She poured her heart and life into getting us into this new building, and it stands as a monument to her tireless efforts. The college has lost a dear friend.”
Prior to joining GRU, Dr. Drisko served as director of the Dental Education and Research Center at the University of Louisville School of Dentistry in Louisville, Kentucky. She had previously served as associate professor of periodontics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and as a clinical dental hygiene instructor at Tyler Junior College in Texas and at the University of Oklahoma.
Dr. Drisko was a practicing dental hygienist for 16 years before earning her dental degree in 1980.
In addition, Dr. Drisko chaired the American Dental Education Association Women’s Advisory and Legislative Advisory committees, a member of the Gies Board of Trustees and was a faculty member for the organization’s Leadership Institute.
Dr. Drisko was also a member of the Georgia Society of Periodontists Executive Committee; a diplomate, former director and chair of the American Board of Periodontology; and a Fellow of the American College of Dentists, the International College of Dentists, the Pierre Fauchard Academy and the Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine program.
Dr. Drisko is survived by her husband Dr. Richard Drisko; step-daughter Julie Gardner, and her husband, Marc, of Frisco, Texas; sister Carol Barr of Wichita, Kansas; two granddaughters, Kristin Longstaff and Cara Gardner, of Frisco, Texas; and five nieces and nephews.
A private family service and burial will be held this week. A memorial service for friends and extended family is being planned for September.
In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations be made in Dr. Connie Drisko’s memory to the Georgia Health Sciences Foundation, 1120 15th Street, FI-1000, Augusta, GA 30912. Funds will be used to support the College of Dental Medicine’s pediatric dentistry outreach programs and other efforts related to the oral health needs of children.

ADA continuing education a unique benefit tailored to meet members’ needs

Dr. Teresa Dolan

Recognizing the need for dentists to continue learning long after they’ve graduated from dental school, the ADA offers it members and the dental community various ways to continue their education—all tailored to their specific needs.

From online to in person, the ADA’s continuing education options provide cutting-edge courses that have an immediate impact on a dentist’s ability to treat patients, grow their practice and meet state licensure requirements.

“Clinicians have an ethical responsibility to provide the most appropriate and evidence-based care to their patients,” said Dr. Teresa Dolan, chair of the Council on Dental Education and Licensure. “The continuing education courses provided by the ADA meet the ADA Continuing Education Recognition Program requirements and are timely, objective, evidence based and designed to meet the needs of ADA members.”

These courses include the Education in the Round sessions at the ADA 2014—America’s Dental Meeting on Oct. 9-14 in San Antonio which allows dentists to experience step-by-step live-patient procedures—from diagnosis to treatment—and implement what is learned into practice.
Education in the Round courses available this year include Manage Your Periodontal Patients With Techno Power by Dr. Samuel Low; Root Coverage Grafting of Multiple Teeth in the Maxillary Arch, by Dr. Edward Allen; Predictable Solutions for the Implant Patient, by Dr. David Little; and Lasers in Dental Practice—A Live-Patient Demonstration by Drs. Robert Convissar and Charles Hoopingarner.

The annual meeting also includes hands-on cadaver workshops where dentists can learn at two state-of-the-art labs at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Courses include Concepts and Procedures for Predictable Crown Lengthening by Dr. Jim Grisdale and Soft Tissue Grafting by Dr. Peter Shatz.

For new dentists, the annual New Dentist Conference offers up to 14 hours of continuing education. This year at the 28th New Dentist Conference in Kansas City, Missouri, continuing education courses include the lecture and hands-on workshop Basic Endodontics for the General Practitioner, Parts 1 and 2, by Dr. Diwakar Kinra. The course focuses on the latest scientific advancements in NiTi metallurgy, irrigation and obturation technologies that are improving and changing endodontic therapy.

Another continuing education course available at the New Dentist Conference is How to Hire, Fire, Inspire, and Rewire Your Team, Your Patients and YOU! by Dr. Ann Bynum. The session focuses on the actions dentists can implement to establish a unique niche for a dental practice.

However, if there are still certain topics members can’t find in the in-person CE sessions, the ADA CE Online has over 100 courses available and accessible to members 24 hours a day at their convenience. These courses cover over three dozen categories from oral sedation and ethics to restorative, special care and pediatric dentistry.

To register, create a login and password at Registrants may select from a variety of educational programs, which reflect a broad range of contemporary information. ADA CE Online is the premier dental distance learning resource dedicated to helping health care professionals achieve a higher level of knowledge and information.

In addition, members can earn up to four CE credits each month through the JADA Online Continuing Education program, which provides complete online testing and submission grading. Also, if you missed the Education in the Round sessions at the annual meeting, ADA365 allows members to view them, along with a question and answer feature with the speaker. The ADA is a CERP-approved provider, giving members confidence in selecting any of the CE courses and sessions the ADA offers.

“The ADA has developed a strong portfolio of products and services that are designed to meet the needs of its membership and assist members in their practice success,” said Dr. Dolan. “And the direct and indirect beneficiaries of these products are our patients who need and deserve quality dental care provided by well-educated clinicians.”

‘Leadership Day’ kicks off 2014 New Dentist Conference

image of NDC crowd at Leadership Day
New dentists: Attendees of the 28th New Dentist Conference listen to Dr. Charles Norman, ADA president, who spoke of the ways new dentists can take on leadership roles in their communities and organized dentistry.

Kansas City, Mo.—Whether it is volunteerism and mentorship to possibly becoming the president of the American Dental Association, the first day of the 28th New Dentist Conference had one clear theme: Leadership.

“Fostering leaders is a big part of what the New Dentist Committee does. We always believe that the voice of the new dentist is extremely important as new dentists make up roughly one-quarter of practicing dentists in the country,” said Dr. Brian Schwab, ADA New Dentist Committee chair.

The first day of the three-day conference, held at the Sheraton Kansas City Hotel at Crown Center, dedicated many of its sessions to helping more than 350 registrants to find pathways to leadership, how to lead and inspire, and to exchange ideas on the current issues facing the profession.

image of Dr. Waynerd Frederickson attempting to negotiate a higher salary during a how-to-negotiate activity in the Pathways To Leadership session at the 28th New Dentist Conference
Proper negotiation: Dr. Waynerd Frederickson attempts to negotiate a higher salary during a how-to-negotiate activity in the Pathways To Leadership session at the 28th New Dentist Conference.

In addition, new dentists had the opportunity to engage with the leaders of the ADA New Dentist Committee, the ADA Board of Trustees and leaders from state and local dental societies.

“Our great leaders are getting older and going into retirement, and as new dentists, if we don’t take charge of the future of our profession, someone else will and we may not like what we see,” said Dr. Robin Nguyen, of Trinity, Florida.

The New Dentist Conference, Dr. Nguyen added, is a good way to meet people who are in the same stage of their professional lives — practitioners in their first 10 years out of dental school — to share ideas and recognize what’s important to the profession at this point in time and in the future, she said.

Dr. Nguyen was among the new dentists who queried Dr. Norman and Dr. Kathleen O’Loughlin, ADA executive director, during a question-and-answer session. She asked what the ADA is doing to accommodate the changing demographic in dentistry as more and more women are entering the dental profession.

image of Dr. Andrea Janik, of San Antonio, asking a panel, which included ADA President Charles Norman and Executive Director Kathleen O'Loughlin, how the ADA is utilizing social media to communicate with dentist during the Leadership General Session at the 28th New Dentist Conference.
Q&A: Dr. Andrea Janik, of San Antonio, asked a panel, which included ADA President Charles Norman and Executive Director Kathleen O’Loughlin, how the ADA is utilizing social media to communicate with dentists during the Leadership General Session at the 28th New Dentist Conference.

Others, including Dr. Edgar Radjabli, of Baltimore, asked the panel how the ADA is addressing the issue of student debt.

“It’s important new dentists learn about the various resources and options out there to help them pay off their loans,” Dr. Radjabli said.

As part of the daylong leadership development session, keynote speaker Marko Vujicic, Ph.D., chief economist and managing vice president of the ADA Health Policy Resources Center, discussed the changing dental landscape, including utilization of dental care and trends in student debt, and identified key entry points for strategic action going forward.

About 60 people attended Pathways to Leadership, led by Dr. Maria Maranga, a session where new dentists learned how to position their existing skills and develop new ones for leadership opportunities throughout dentistry.

In another session, Lead Yourself (And Your Team) To the Promised Land, Dr. Guy Deyton explored the five practices of highly effective leaders based on research of over one million leaders.

Dr. Brigid Mooney, of Centreville, Virginia, said she decided to attend the conference to learn how she can apply her skills in new leadership roles and her career.

“It’s very encouraging to know that anyone can work to become a good leader,” Dr. Mooney said, adding that leadership can mean volunteering in the community to getting involved in their local dental societies. “The conference is helping me get the tools and resources to figure out what leadership roles I can do.”

Other speakers and courses during the day included:

•    Kirk Behrent, founder of ACT Dental, Being All That We Can Be: Changing Perspective to Change Reality;

•    Jeanine Pekkarinen, ADA Membership Recruitment, Retention and Outreach manager, Enhancing Member Value for New Dentists.

In two sessions, Hot Topics in the Round and Idea Exchange, attendees discussed issues new practitioners face, which included student debt and navigating the business world. Joining the interchange were leaders from the New Dentist Committee and members of the ADA Board of Trustees.

“You set the direction for our profession. You decide what our polices are. You decided how we’re going to advocate for our profession,” Dr. Charles Norman, ADA president, said. “All you have to do is speak up, and offer your opinion and support.”

Follow Bob: Impressions, record keeping crucial in treatment

 Follow Bob logo

Editors note: This is the second in a unique series of ADA News articles following a patient’s full-mouth reconstruction from A to Z. Installments will appear as treatment milestones are reached.

Robert “Bob” Hartman knew his teeth were worn down and broken — but it was something else when he saw a detailed model of his mouth and teeth.

“When I saw the final impression I was rather embarrassed to see what I had lived with for a long portion of my life,” Bob said. “You just don’t realize how bad they looked. No wonder I was afraid to smile.”

Due to decay and bone loss from lack of proper care over the years, combined with a deteriorating tooth structure, the 62-year-old is in need of a full-mouth restoration. His jaw has also moved forward affecting his bite and the way he eats.

Led by Dr. Joseph Massad, of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and co-treated by Dr. David Little, of San Antonio, Bob will have immediate maxillary and mandibular dentures placed, with extractions of all of his teeth, appropriate bone reduction and placement of prosthesis.

It will not only ultimately correct his dental problems but also educate ADA members on the assessment and treatment of patients who need such an extensive treatment plan. Bob’s case will be part of a continuing education online series where ADA members are able follow his treatment — from diagnosis to surgery — through courses to be posted on ADA CE Online.

image of Bob's impression
Colorful impressions: Bob’s impressions were made of polyvinyl siloxane impression material and by utilizing a special technique for accuracy. The impressions were done to make a determination of the pressures that affect the outer surface of any prosthesis.

The process is expected to take about 18 months, culminating in a three-hour Education in the Round course at the ADA 2015 — America’s Dental Meeting in Washington, D.C., by Dr. Massad.

As part of the process, Bob returned to Dr. Massad’s office three weeks after his January examinations to begin impressions and record making—a crucial part in Bob’s overall treatment.

 “It was extremely important that accurate impressions of both the teeth and the tissues, including the functional areas of all borders, be extremely accurate,” Dr. Massad said. The creation of the prosthesis would be utilized in the implant placements. The impressions were made of polyvinyl siloxane impression material, utilizing a special technique for accuracy.
“The purpose for this procedure was to be assured that the new prosthesis would fit functionally within the confines of the facial oral cavity and reflect the muscles of facial expression and mastication, which would be in intimate contact with the prosthetic,” Dr. Massad said. “This prosthetic will become the guideline for implant placement.”

In addition, Dr. Massad said he “made vertical and horizontal records defining the patient’s appropriate spacing and philological repeatable relationship.”

Cameo impressions were also made of the surfaces between the cheeks and the labial/buccal surfaces of the teeth and tissues to determine whether or not the pressures in that area would allow repositioning in any of the teeth and tissue areas.

“This procedure is done in all cases to make a determination of the pressures that affect the outer surface of any prosthesis,” Dr. Massad said. “Several different replicas of teeth were tried over the patient’s existing teeth in order for the patient to visualize and have the choice of whether the teeth should be longer or shorter and determine the best midline position.”

Once the prosthesis was completely fabricated, it was sent to Dr. Little to have the surgical guides made so that the teeth could be extracted, and any necessary bone trimming would be performed prior to implant placement.

“Dr. Massad showed me my palate, my tongue, etc., and how everything fit together,” Bob said of his record-making appointment. “It was really quite amazing.”

These initial visits are featured in the first CE online session at To view the first online course, search for the session titled “Treatment of a Failing Dentition with Prosthetic Driven Implant Considerations. A 4 Part Series Part 1: Diagnosis and Prognosis of a Failing Dentition.”

Strategize student loan debt repayment through consolidation and refinancing

When Dr. Edgar Radjabli, of Baltimore, graduated from dental school in 2010, he had eight different loans from six different lenders totaling about $265,000.

Today, he has one bill to pay after consolidating and refinancing all his loans in November 2013 through Darien Rowayton Bank.

“It’s much easier to deal with!” said Dr. Radjabli. “I did it for simplicity.”

In addition, he estimates to save about $75,000 in interest over the next 15 years.

For many dentists coming out of dental school, loan consolidation and refinancing may be options worthy of consideration as part of a repayment strategy.

The average dental student leaves school with $221,000 in student loan debt, according to the ADA’s “Survey of Dental School Seniors, 2013“.

But like all major financial decisions, consolidation or refinancing comes with potential advantages and disadvantages.

Consolidation vs. refinancing

First, while they’re often used interchangeably, there is a difference between consolidation and refinancing.

Federal loan consolidation combines multiple government-sponsored loans into just one loan. It simply takes the weighted average interest rate of the loans being combined.

When it comes to consolidating private loans, interest rates are not based on a weighted average of the existing loans’ rates. Instead, a private lender will typically use a borrower’s credit score and other financial information to provide a new interest rate on the consolidated loan.

“Essentially, if you’re consolidating loans with a private lender, you are also in fact refinancing those loans,” according to SoFi, a peer-to-peer lender based in San Francisco.

In other words, refinancing is when a borrower applies for a loan under new terms, and uses that loan to pay off one or more existing student loans. Unlike consolidation, refinancing is only available from private lenders.

Both options have their pros and cons.

Consolidation advantages, disadvantages

One good reason to consolidate federal loans is convenience, said Paul S. Garrad, consultant for American Dental Education Association, senior advisor for Student Financial Services.

“One loan, one loan servicer, one payment, one place to file forms,” he said.

Consolidating federal loans also allows borrowers to convert former non-direct loans to direct loans. Only direct loans (Stafford, Grad PLUS and Federal Consolidation Loans borrowed through the federal government’s Direct Loan Program) are eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

Also, repayment terms may be extended to 30 years, which lowers monthly payments but adds to total repayment costs if it takes the full 30 years to repay.

“More than a few recent dental school graduates are not strong candidates for consolidation,” said Mr. Garrad said.

“This is partly because of the federal government’s actions over the past few years to ensure that all of a borrower’s federally owned loans are serviced by one loan servicer.”

Disadvantages in consolidating federal loans include a lengthy and cumbersome process (may take 60-90 days), slightly higher interest rate (interest rate on consolidation loans is a “weighted” rate of all loans being consolidated, rounded up an eighth of a percent then fixed for the life of the loan) and loss of grace periods on loans being consolidated if students consolidate too early.

Refinancing advantages, disadvantages

Refinancing can help borrowers pay lower interest rates on their student loans thus saving thousands of dollars throughout the life of the loan, though it comes with some risks as well. Similar to taking out a mortgage, borrowers can choose between a fixed rate loan and a variable rate loan, or both.

Fixed rate loans typically have a higher rate than variable rate student loans but will remain the same over the life of the loan. Variable rate student loans generally are lower but may change, including the risk of going up, on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis.

Dan Macklin, SoFi co-founder and vice president of business development, said by lowering the interest rates 1-3 percent, graduates can save thousands of dollars through the life of a loan.

However, as Dr. Radjabli found, there aren’t many lenders that will include federal loans as part of a refinancing plan. Many financial institutions only refinance private loans.
By doing some online research, Dr. Radjabli said he learned of SoFi and DRB, opting for the latter.

Through DRB, Dr. Radjabli chose a variable rate student loan.

“I’m paying the same monthly payment but more of it is going to the principal balance,” he said. “It really depends on the person and their personal financial situation. I felt that was the best option for me.”

As for disadvantages, graduates who refinance federal student loans will lose many of the benefits that come with federal loans, such as loan forgiveness and income-based repayment programs.

If a dentist comes under hardship, he or she won’t be able to apply to defer monthly payments. However, SoFi does have a forbearance program that is similar to that of the government.

Weighing the options

Mr. Macklin said dental school graduates interested in refinancing but who need those federal benefits should wait, possibly up to a year, to make sure they’re on stable financial ground. For graduates who don’t need those federal benefits, he said, refinancing sooner is better than later.

“For every month you pay for the loan, you may be paying higher interest rates,” said Mr. Macklin. “I think the main thing is that people should be aware that options are out there.”

For Dr. Jenna Hatfield, of Lincoln, Nebraska, who will begin making monthly payments to her $260,000 student loan in November, a simple consolidation of her federal loans was the way to go. Those federal benefits were important to her as she intends on doing an income-based repayment plan.

Her new interest rate will be the weighted average of her various loans, which come from the same lender.

“There’s really not a black and white answer,” she said. “Students and graduates should work with their financial aid office and take student loan counseling and spend time educating themselves to see what works best for them.”

For more information on consolidation and refinancing, view ADEA’s educational debt management materials here. Or visit the Center for Professional Success at and search for “Thinking About Loan Consolidation,” “Financial Calculators,” and “Federal and State Loan Repayment Options.”

And visit and click on “Financial Planning Resources for Students and New Graduates.”

Proposal to create new ADA agency to oversee CERP moves to House of Delegates

Image of the ADA CERP logo

In an effort to remove potential conflicts of interest and enhance the ADA Continuing Education Recognition Program, the Council on Dental Education and Licensure submitted a proposal to the 2014 House of Delegates to establish a new commission to oversee CERP.

Resolution 6-2014 outlines amendments to the ADA Bylaws and draft rules for the proposed creation of the ADA Commission for Continuing Education Provider Recognition. A two-thirds majority vote of the House is required to amend the Bylaws.

“ADA CERP approval reflects the ADA’s commitment to the highest standards for scientifically sound and unbiased clinical continuing education,” said Dr. Teresa Dolan, CDEL chair. “The creation of the ADA Commission for Continuing Education Provider Recognition would further ensure that the ADA remains free of any potential conflict of interest because it functions as both a CE provider and an approver of CE providers. This approach also reflects best practices in the continuing education arena.”

Photo of Dr. Dolan
Dr. Dolan
Photo of Dr. Boyle
Dr. Boyle

CDEL emphasizes that the proposal represents a shift in governance from one ADA agency to another to enhance the program while maintaining the ADA’s role.

The council’s decision to explore a new model was made after a review of the organizational structures of other continuing education accrediting agencies and analyzing CERP’s current structure and CE environment.

“It is interesting to note that agencies that approve providers of continuing medical, pharmacy and nursing education operate as independent entities or as independent subsidiaries of membership organizations,” Dr. Dolan said.

Currently, CDEL’s CERP Committee manages the program. In addition, CDEL also oversees the ADA’s CE programming.

The new agency would help ensure that CERP meets the standard of impartiality required of agencies that approve providers of continuing education and minimize internal conflicts of interest, said Dr. James Boyle, CERP committee chair.

“Nothing will change on how CERP goes about its business, except it will be under a stand-alone commission,” Dr. Boyle said. “This will help us ensure that the CE programs offered and approved are bias-free, impartial and remain the gold standard in continuing education.”

Under the proposal, the new commission’s rules and annual operating budget would be subject to approval by the ADA House of Delegates and CERP would continue to operate under ADA bylaws. The board of commissioners would be composed of representatives from the American Association of Dental Boards, American Dental Education Association, American Society of Constituent Dental Executives, the sponsoring organization of the ADA recognized dental specialties, and the ADA — all organizations currently
represented on the CERP Committee. The commission would have the authority to approve CE providers, adopt standards and policies and manage administration of the program.

CERP promotes continuous quality improvement of CE and provides dental regulatory agencies with a sound basis for uniform acceptance of CE credits that are mandated by 49 licensing jurisdictions for maintenance of licensure. Today, 441 providers of CE are approved by ADA CERP.

The full proposal can be found in CDEL’s 2014 annual report. To view the report, click here.

New Dentist Conference prepares practitioners for success

Photo of group at NDC
Q&A: Attendees stepped up to the microphone to ask ADA President Charles Norman and Executive Director Kathleen O’Loughlin during the Leadership General Session at the 2014 New Dentist Conference held July 17-19 in Kansas City, Missouri. Topics raised during the session included diversity in dentistry, how the ADA utilizes social media to communicate and concerns over student loans.

Kansas City, Mo. — Dr. Jennifer Sarsland practices in Bowman, North Dakota, where she is one of three ADA member dentists in a town of about 1,600 people.

She is three years out of dental school while her two other colleagues are older and more experienced.

So when Dr. Sarsland attended her first New Dentist Conference this year, she found it not only helpful and educational, but also plain fun.

Photo of Dr. Riordan
Dr. Danielle Riordan

“As new dentists, we have different needs and interests with those who have been practicing for 20 years or more,” she said. “Because I live in a really small town, it was good for me to come and to meet other people just starting out and see what they are doing in their practices.”

Dr. Sarsland was among the more than 375 registrants of the ADA 28th New Dentist Conference, held July 17-19 in Kansas City, where attendees were encouraged to take on leadership roles, introduced to new dentist resources, network with colleagues, attend continuing education courses and exchange ideas and stories — all with the goal of helping new dentists succeed in their professional and personal lives.

“Success is not an accident. People don’t accidentally become successful,” said keynote speaker and best-selling author Weldon Long.

Mr. Long, who shared his story on how he went from being a former convict and being homeless to a successful business owner and author, told the new dentists that success comes through simplifying your life, focusing on what you have to do and executing in a consistent basis.

Mr. Long encouraged the dentists to simplify their lives by focusing on three key life goals: financial stability, fostering relationships and maintaining good mental and physical health.

Photo of Dr. Frederickson
Dr. Waynerd Frederickson

“What else is there?” he said. “Instead of having all these various things, simplify it to a few simple goals. We don’t want you to get overwhelmed.”

During the three-day conference, new dentists were able to attend sessions, courses and networking opportunities that may help them reach those key goals and address issues faced by practitioners less than 10 years out of dental school.

For Dr. Joe Moon, of Kansas City, Missouri, the biggest takeaway from the conference came from the lectures that discussed how to balance one’s life with dentistry.

“Early on as a new dentists, there’s a lot of stress related to work,” said Dr. Moon, a 2007 graduate. “I found the advice on how to handle that stress and balancing the business and personal aspect of dentistry most beneficial. I learned that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Dr. Moon singled out two sessions he attended as most helpful — dental practice coach and author Kirk Behrendt’s “Being All That We Can Be: Changing Perspective to Change Reality,” which helped attendees identify and correct specific areas of the practice that suppress production and limit new patient growth, and how to inspire the dental team to stay fully engaged with patients; and “Peak or Valley? Where is Your Production Headed? How Better Business Systems Will Increase Production and Profit,” a continuing education course by Dr. Roger Levin that taught dentists about systems that increase production and profit, drive growth and reduce stress.

Photo of Dr. Sato
Dr. Wesley Sato

These sessions were among the continuing education opportunities at the conference, which included hands-on endodontic and implant courses at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry.

“This conference is great for new dentists because it provides a lot of resources and good information on running a business and handling student loans that you don’t get when you’re in dental school,” Dr. Moon said.

When it comes to financial stability, student debt was a common concern for many of the new dentists.

Dr. Edgar Radjabli, of Baltimore asked Dr. Charles Norman, ADA president, and Dr. Kathleen O’Loughlin, ADA executive director, how the ADA is addressing the issue of student debt during the Leadership General Session.

Dr. O’Loughlin pointed new dentists to ADA resources, such as the Center for Professional Success, which includes a financial calculator to help new dentists figure out loan payments and other expenditures.
Meanwhile, Dr. Norman said that although the ADA has no direct control on student tuition and loans, he encouraged the new dentists take on leadership roles in organized dentistry so that their voices can be heard when the ADA, which is working with the American Dental Education Association, advocates to Congress to keep student interest rates low and push for reform regarding student debt.

“Our great leaders are getting older and going into retirement, and as new dentists, if we don’t take charge of the future of our profession, someone else will and we may not like what we see,” said Dr. Robin Nguyen, of Trinity, Florida.

The first day of the conference focused on leadership development, such as mentorship, volunteerism and leadership roles in organized dentistry. The new dentists also engaged members of the ADA New Dentist Committee, the ADA Board of Trustees and leaders from state and local dental societies in small group discussions.

“Fostering leaders is a big part of what the New Dentist Committee does. We always believe that the voice of the new dentist is extremely important as new dentists make up roughly one-quarter of practicing dentists in the country,” said Dr. Brian Schwab, ADA New Dentist Committee chair.

Furthermore, new dentists shared and exchanged ideas on how to reach out to other young dentists and encouraging them to joining organized dentistry.

Ideas ranged from hosting events targeting women with young children, weekends dedicated to continuing education and networking, ambassador-type programs to more rural areas and other recruitment and retention events.

In Hawaii, Dr. Scott Morita, the Hawaii Dental Association’s New Dentist Committee co-chair, shared how they hosted a social event involving test-driving exotic cars where dentists can interact and network.

“We do not have a dental school in Hawaii, so it’s hard for us to recruit dental students or new dentists,” Dr. Morita said. “It’s what we’re trying to do to network in Hawaii with our young and new dentists and get them involved with the Hawaii Dental Association.”

Likewise, the New Dentist Conference also provided ample opportunities for attendees to network and interact with their colleagues.

“What makes the conference unique is that you are with your peers, you are going through the same experiences and struggles,” said Dr. Moon. “The conference gives a certain type of comfort as oppose to going to a lecture at another conference where you have no idea what they’re talking about.”

Networking opportunities included an opening reception, the New Dentist Committee Awards luncheon and a social event at Kansas City’s Power & Light District, among others.

“We’re all just getting started with our businesses, with families,” said Dr. Sarsland. “When you’re just with people who are so like yourself, you just can’t not have fun.”

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