Are General Dentists Alienated from the ADA?

Post your comments about the ADA to our blog.

In our most recent survey, we asked: Is the American Dental Association dominated by specialists who are trying to promote their own agendas and not necessarily the welfare of the general dentist?

Wow – this is certainly a divisive issue!

Nearly two-thirds of our respondents said, “Yes! Specialists and their associations are using the ADA so they can make more money – at the expense of general dentists, of course.” On the other hand, 38% said, “No! The ADA has not allowed special interests to compromise its service to the dental profession as a whole.”

To see how polarizing this issue is, just look at the responses of general dentists as compared to specialists. General dentists were 8 times more likely to criticize the ADA than were specialists! While it’s not surprising that the two groups responded differently to a question about the ADA’s relationship with specialists, the difference between the two is particularly dramatic.

Many readers commented on the troubled relationship between generalists and specialists – two closely related groups of dentists who have to cooperate but also can’t avoid competing. Whew! – passions run high where the ADA is concerned!

Here are just a few of the many comments we received on this hot-button issue.

  • “The general dentist is king!!!” (New Hampshire periodontist)

Some felt we were just trying to stir up controversy:

  • “This question is an attempt to stir up contempt between specialists and GPs. Nice try.” (New York dentist)
  • “This is such a loaded question that you should be embarrassed to ask it.” (Pennsylvania dentist)
  • “It is a shame that you wish to hang out the dirty laundry of the dental profession with these questions.” (Oregon periodontist)

Some directly questioned the value of the ADA:

  • “The ADA is a dinosaur.” (Mississippi dentist)
  • “They have actually become the enemy of the general dentist.” (Missouri dentist)
  • “It is controlled by the staff who have their own agenda.” (Massachusetts oral surgeon)
  • “The ADA is taking the same approach as the AMA. Politicking and special interests.” (Missouri dentist)
  • “What is so disturbing is the alliances with manufacturers and the conflicts of interest in research.” (Nebraska dentist)

Others defended the ADA:

  • “If you answer yes to this question, I’d submit you’ve never attended a leadership meeting of the ADA.” (Virginia oral surgeon)
  • “This is a ridiculous notion. They are concerned with all of dentistry.” (Ohio periodontist)

Some criticized (some) specialists:

  • “The specialists are paranoid that we general dentists are a threat… Orthodontists are the worst.” (Arkansas dentist)
  • “Periodontists are out of control!!” (Georgia dentist)

Others criticized (some) general dentists:

  • “General dentists are generally a paranoid group of individuals who sacrifice proper patient care for fear of losing extra income.” (Pennsylvania periodontist)
  • “Too many general dentists are offering themselves to the public with non-recognized credentials.” (Alaska dentist)
  • “This sounds like sour grapes from some general dentists with penis envy!” (California dentist)

Some mourned the new sedation guidelines:

  • “Oral Conscious Sedation Dentistry: 2 million cases done, 0 Morbidity, 0 Mortality. Do they do that well with IV sedation?” (Maryland dentist)
  • “This whole situation with the new effort to restrict the scope and practice of GP’s in regards to conscious sedation is pure dollars-driven territorialism.” (California dentist)


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