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ED Message - Past, Present and Future of CSPD

Monday, May 18, 2015   (1 Comments)
Posted by: CSPD Bulletin
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BY Dr. Andy Soderstrom, CSPD Executive Director

I’ve seen the announcement in the Bulletin. I’ve been introduced as the Executive Director numerous times but until I began to compose this message, the reality of my new position had not completely been realized. I feel extremely privileged and proud to have been selected to be the fourth Executive Director for CSPD. My earliest CSPD memory goes back to what I think was the Installation Dinner in 1977. I remember meeting Weyland Lum, the visionary who led the formation of an organization to represent dentists who limited their practice to “pedodontics.” Ed Mack from San Francisco was being installed as the third president and Tom Barber was or would become the first Executive Director. Since that meeting, 37 additional presidents have been installed, two Executive Directors, Mel Rowan and Ray Stewart, and a countless number of volunteers have helped mold CSPD into the robust organization it is today. It truly is a privilege to follow in the footsteps of our past leaders.

One of the purposes of forming a unified group of pedodontists was to resolve issues with the California Dental Service (CDS). CDS was formed in 1955 by the California State Dental Association (the Northern California portion of what would become CDA) to provide a prepaid dental plan to organized union labor groups. At the same time, similar plans were formed in Washington and Oregon. Ultimately these early prepayment plans led to the formation of the Delta Dental Plans Association in 1966. Fast forward to 2015, not much has changed. Conflict still exists and the situation has only become more complex as the number of third party payers has grown significantly. We now have numerous companies offering numerous plans with numerous fee schedules with numerous…you get the picture. Add to that a less than robust economy and unknown implications of the Affordable Care Act on dentistry, you might think it’s time to wave a white flag. However, I choose to see a glass that is half full. I see some unique opportunities for dentistry and even more so for pediatric dentists.

As our profession has evolved, we have begun to base our decisions on science rather than our individual experience. Policy makers and third party payers are beginning to use evidence based science in their decision processes. One of the unintended consequences of creating dental prepayment plans outside of medical plans was to metaphorically “separate the mouth from the body.” There is a growing body of evidence surrounding the effects that poor oral health can have on overall health. In 2012, United Concordia published results of their study that explored the effect that periodontal disease had on patients with type 2 diabetes, cerebral vascular disease, coronary artery disease and/or on women who were pregnant. The results showed significant annual medical cost savings and significant reductions in hospital admissions for patients who received treatment for their periodontal disease. Primary care physicians, OB’s and midwives have taken note of this information and the implications to their practice outcomes. The Triple Aim goals from the ACA – improved care experience, improved population health and reduced health care cost – will be assessed by outcomes that will be a factor in the determination of their reimbursements rates. Higher rates and/or bonuses will be paid if they show improved outcomes. Medicine now has motivation to put the mouth back in the body but dentistry seems to be resisting being reunited with medicine. Having seen the effects of managed care on the practice of medicine over the last two decades, it is not surprising that dentists are hesitant to embrace the medical model. Dentistry now has a window of opportunity to play a significant role in helping medical practitioners in attaining the goals of the Triple Aim. My belief is that if dentistry doesn’t embrace a collaborative role working with physicians to improve the outcomes for these patients, medicine will create a model that will meet their needs.

So where do pediatric dentists play a role? It’s simply one word-PREVENTION. We are the preventive experts of dentistry. We have unique opportunities to have an impact on children at a very young age establishing habits that lead to good health. Most of us were trained in programs with close relations with medicine. As a result, we are more comfortable speaking to our medical colleagues regarding our patients’ care than are general dentists. Anecdotally (not evidence based), I can say with some confidence that if I can get a child’s risk assessment status to low by age 5-6, they will most often remain at low risk. Maybe there is some fact to the thought “Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” BMI monitoring, A1C testing, vaccinations and nutritional counseling are all services that could easily be provided in pediatric dental offices. Current perinatal oral health guidelines have brought clarity regarding the safety and importance of good oral health during pregnancy. Pediatric dentists may be able to help spread this message. Working out of our comfort zone is challenging but shouldn’t hinder our efforts to seek ways we can improve the health of the public. Could the new group practice model be a pediatrician, an obstetrician and a pediatric dentist?

At the Annual Meeting in March, we celebrated the 40th anniversary of CSPD. Looking through some of the historical documents on display, I came across some information I was aware of but had never seen on the printed page. Weyland Lum has thoughtfully chronicled the early history of CSPD, originally called the California Academy of Pedodontists. The timeline references a 1974 letter of inquiry sent to all pedodontists regarding the interest in forming the organization. My father, Phil Soderstrom, was mentioned in that letter as being interested in forming the CAP. After receiving a large number of positive responses, an organizational meeting was held. My uncle, Charles Soderstrom, was in attendance. I am proud that my father and uncle shared the vision of creating a unified voice for pedodontists knowing that future generations would reap the benefits of their efforts. Reflecting back on all that dentistry has meant to my life, I hope that I can leave some small contribution to the next generation of pediatric dentists.

Comments...

Roland W. Hansen DDS MS says...
Posted Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Congratulations on assuming your new position as Executive Director of CSPD. We all know that you will represent our organization in outstanding fashion. R. Hansen

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