Organized Dentistry – A Must for Your Future


By Carol A. Wooden, DDS, MAGD

Organized: Prepared, structured, planned, ordered, well thought out

As we see our professional horizon change with the threat of dramatic government led healthcare changes, midlevel providers, multiple economic woes, high levels of student debt, and many other obstacles that were not there just a few years ago, it is more important than ever to support those who are seeking solutions not only to protect the profession but to protect you, your future, and very importantly – your patients.

The most important protection against professional threats of all kinds comes from dentistry being organized well enough to fight these challenges. The single most important factor in dentistry being prepared is you. It is of paramount importance that you are part of the solution. Things you can easily do are: join, donate, and volunteer.

So let’s start with the minimum: you say you don’t have much time? Joining is as easy as writing a check or going online and clicking a few keys. It is a business expense. It can be a tax deduction. When I say join, I do not refer just to joining the Academy of General Dentistry (although that is one obvious goal!). All of dentistry is under fire in one way or the other at this time. If you believe others will be able to stand up to it all without you and your help, including your dues dollars, think again. There is no one who will be unaffected by ongoing and upcoming changes – be they general dentists, specialists, or the organizations that support them.

Join those who fight for you, who educate you, and who help you succeed. Join those from whom you and your profession gain direct benefit. Join your mother organization.  Join your specialty organization. Financially and otherwise support anyone who has your best interest at heart! In my opinion, and the opinion of many others, supporting as many formal organizations as you possibly can with your dollars is essential to long-term success. For all dentists, the American Dental Association (ADA, State DA, District DA) is our umbrella group.

All recognized specialties have their own specialty group (AAOMS, AAO, AAP, AAPD, and on and on). For those of us who are general dentists – the quarterback of the dental team – the “specialty” group  representing us is the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD). And lest you think I forget such groups as

the National Dental Association (NDA), the Hispanic Dental Association (HDA) and the American Association of Women Dentists (AAWD), I do not. The profession of dentistry, depending on your age, has either been very good to you or will be very good to you. Giving back by the simple act of writing a check or clicking online will continue to protect the future of our great profession for those coming up now and those behind them – and the patients we all serve. It will protect and help you.

While you are writing checks or clicking online keys to join, consider donating! It takes very little more time to write or click more dollars. While dues dollars are a set amount, donations are a discretionary amount, so although I would always urge you to donate as much as possible, that also means you could donate less.

The amount is up to you, but any amount is very important. Often it can be done as an extra click or an added amount to your dues payments. The AGD has the AGD Advocacy Fund to be used for support of legislative goals and the ADA has ADPAC for the same purpose.  Both organizations have a Foundation that supports many professional and public outreaches.

The AGD Foundation thrust currently is to support education, diagnosis, and cures for oral cancer. Please donate to these and/or other causes that are near your heart.

Check with your accountant or financial planner for the best way to make that donation count for you as it will count for others.

And lastly, you can volunteer! Yes, volunteering takes a bit more time and a bit more energy, but the amount of time you spend is strictly up to you and your family, professional, or other priorities. You may already volunteer for your church or other civic group. Why not take some of your energy to volunteer for your profession and your lifestyle?

There are so many possibilities to volunteer dentally that it is impossible to even scratch the surface here. There are always opportunities to volunteer for shorter or longer stents with dental organizations such as the ones above in this article. There are always opportunities in your own office setting, locally, throughout the US, and abroad to volunteer and give back by performing dentistry through outreaches or other public and private events.

If you want suggestions on how and where to volunteer, it is often as close as the nearest dentist. Dentists are known for their compassion and giving nature. What we don’t do well is toot our own horn for doing good deeds. I am willing to bet that you won’t look far for a colleague who has gone on a mission trip, volunteers at a local clinic, or volunteers for organized dentistry in some way. Just ask them and they will tell you that they feel they get back a lot more than they give. There is also camaraderie and fun involved with volunteering on any level.

Volunteering is a rewarding and fulfilling way to give back to the profession that has been good to you. If you volunteer in organized dentistry, you can help mold the future for yourself and others. If you volunteer in patient care, you not only help that patient population but also assist in any real or perceived access to care problems – which again helps your profession. You are by virtue of your own head, hands, and/or heart part of the solution!

Please be a part of the solution! Join, donate, and/or volunteer now. Need some ideas for current volunteer opportunities? Go to

Posted in GAGD Explorer Spring 2015 | Tagged

The Quiet Client: Tells All


In 2011, our group provided a weekend practice management CE seminar for the GAGD Mastertrack group. At the close of the first day which had focused on articulating strong (not long) mission statements along with effective communication and leadership practices, we asked the dentists how many felt their front office personnel handled prospective patient phone calls well and made the types of impressions that were in line with their mission.

Of course, most if not all of the 24 participants raised their hands. What they were about to find out was that two of our consultants had called each of their offices acting as a first-time patient. The script stated that they were new to town and wanted to know if the receptionist could answer one of the following questions: “How much is a cleaning/root canal/or crown?” and “Do you offer dental sedation?” The calls were placed on a Wednesday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

The number of rings, the greeting (if it was answered), hold time, how the patient’s questions were addressed, and if the receptionist had made the “ask” attempting to actually schedule an appointment were all recorded.

The results were eye-opening!

Findings included:

Common responses included providing the fee and then a “Thank you. Bye.” or “Do you have insurance?” which complicated the conversation quickly.

In some cases, calls were answered but if the receptionist could not answer the question, the caller was deferred to a specialist.

  • In six of the 24 offices, calls went unanswered, going straight to voice-mail.
  • Six of 24 asked for the caller’s name.
  • Ten of 24 gave their name. Ex: “Good afternoon. Dr. Jones office Renee speaking.”
  • Six of 24 asked the caller to make an appointment.
  • Five of 24 were friendly in tone and engaged with the caller.

To be fair, the next day we sat each of the dentists in chairs at the front of the room to “play” receptionist. We proceeded to act as distractors, a patient waiting to be checked out, another phone ringing in the background, and even as a UPS delivery person in order to show the dentists just how difficult this task may be.

Take-aways include:

  • First impressions are not magically going to be in line with how you want to be perceived.
  • Efforts to craft and script that first point of contact, the phone call, must be intentional!
  • Since up to 80 percent of the message’s meaning over the phone is based on vocal cues such as tone, pitch, and volume, sounding rushed and distracted is perceived as negative. Ideas for physical solutions include having a separate room away from the reception desk where callers could be given the full attention of the scheduling coordinator.
  • Empower receptionists to ask exploratory questions. What a better service if they can just take a minute to understand “why” the patient needs a crown and empathize.

“Goodness, did you break a tooth?” Let the patients tell their stories. They might not need a crown, root canal or sedation. It is just fear and worry that is compelling them to ask such a direct question. Maybe we are a second opinion, that’s okay too. Scripts help but we have to convey the right intention to engage the patient.

  • Discuss the need to encourage any new patient that is calling to consider a consultation with you as their new GP or at least learn more about the patient’s situation before passing the call off to another provider.
  • Consider hiring a “quiet client” who may even follow through with a full appointment to provide you with objective perspectives and feedback that could pave the way for designing better overall service.
  • Finally, know that these are issues and pointers for every office (no matter the industry) and are reasons to continually articulate your mission to your entire team and have that mission feed your strategic communication practices.

Symphony Dental Alexa ChilcuttDr. Alexa S. Chilcutt is a Communication Studies faculty member at The University of  Alabama and provides CE training with Symphony Dental in Atlanta.

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Lending Club dental

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Scenes from the Annual Meeting


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Posted in GAGD Explorer Spring 2015

Ransomware – Cyber Security Breaches in Dental Offices What You Must Know TODAY


Dental offices are now being hit with Ransomware (cyber blackmail).  If you own or work in a dental practice, you need to know what Ransomware is, and the ramifications of this serious security breach.

Ransomware Trojans are a type of cyberware that is designed to extort money from a dental office. Often, Ransomware will demanda “ransom” payment in order to release the hijacked dental office software.

The hijacking of dental office software can include:

  • Encrypting data and software that is used by a dental practice (Eagle Soft or Dentrix) – so that the dental office can no longer have access any type of patient information
  • Blocking normal access to the entire dental office software

How Ransomware Enters Dental Office Computers

The most common ways in which Ransomware is installed are:

  • Via phishing emails, or
  • As a result of visiting a website that contains a malicious program

After the Ransomware has infiltrated a particular computer or network, they leave a ransom message on the computer screen that demands the payment of BitCon Currency in order to decrypt the files or restore the system to its normal function. In most cases, the ransom message will appear when the user restarts their computer after the entire infiltration has taken place.

In order to keep on top of the latest cyber security breaches, we have taken the initiative to consult with cyber security forensic experts, in order to assist our dental clients, both before the breach occurs [for preventive measures] and after a breach occurs [to determine the extent of the damages].

If a dental office is infected with Ransomware, a practice could suffer a massive security breach, and be subject to huge HIPAA fines [$100.00 to $50,000.00 per violation, as well as $250,000.00 in criminal fines].

Protection Guidelines for a Dental Office

A security breach may be able to be prevented with certain guidelines. Below is a list of security guidelines that every dental practice should implement and follow:

  • Do not charge mobile devices via laptop and USB
  • Identify where sensitive data is stored and how it is protected
  • Perform an annual independent IT security assessment
  • Limit employee use of public Wi-Fi when accessing dental practice data
  • Examine the use of cloud storage for highly sensitive data
  • Continuously update software to close potential vulnerabilities
  • Encrypt portable devices (laptops, smartphones, USB)
  • Ensure that shared resources such as wireless printers are secure
  • Use two-factor authentication on privileged accounts
  • Minimize 3rd party access to sensitive data and network assets (vendors, contractors, practice consultants, etc.)
  • Design and implement a segmented network (servers, wireless, personal computers, etc.)

Unfortunately, data breaches can happen to small and large dental practices. In fact, some dental practices may have already been breached, and practice owners do not even know it. With the implementation of simple security guidelines, the security of dental office data can be substantially improved. Technology alone cannot prevent data breaches, the protection of patient information and other practice data must be a team effort.

Stuart Oberman EsqStuart J. Oberman, Esq. handles a wide range or legal issues for the dental profession including cyber security breaches, employment law, practice sales, OSHA and HIPAA compliance, real estate transactions, lease agreements, non-compete agreements, dental board complaints and professional corporations.

For questions or comments regarding this article please call 770.554.1400 or visit



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GA Academy of General Dentistry

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GAGD Members Climb to New Professional Heights

The GAGD would like to congratulate all of our outstanding members who have been recognized this year for their significant accomplishments in the field of dentistry.

John Sieweke DDS MAGD LLSR LLSR Recipient John C. Sieweke, DDS, MAGD 

The AGD awards Lifelong Learning and Service Recognition (LLSR) to members who have demonstrated a commitment to pursuing continuing education, volunteering their services to communities in need, mentoring associates and new dentists, and participating in organized dentistry.  To receive this recognition, Dr. Sieweke completed 1,600 hours of CE and performed at least 100 hours of dental-related community or volunteer service. Only 245 of the AGD’s 38,000 members have received LLSR since its introduction in 2005.

Posted in GAGD Explorer Fall 2014 News | Tagged ,

Mastership Award Recipients

The Mastership Award is one of the AGD’s highest honors and one of the most respected designations within the profession. To earn this award, recipients completed 1100 hours of continuing dental education.

Mastership Academy of General Dentistry, Georgia

Not shown:  Michelle L. Greissinger, DMD, MAGD
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Fellowship Award Recipients

Georgia AGD Fellowship Awards 2014

The Fellowship Award denotes a professional commitment to lifelong learning. Fellowship is awarded to distinguished members who have demonstrated this commitment by completing 500 hours of continuing education.

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…And They’re Off! MasterTrack V Begins

By Debbie Druey, MBA

MasterTrack V participants embarked upon their first weekend of continuing education in August.  Dentists from across the southeast came together in Atlanta to begin GAGD’s nationally renowned 5-year program of courses that spans every discipline of general dentistry.

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