President’s Letter

Laurence Grayhills, DMD, MS, MAGD
FLAGD President

Greetings to all members and friends of the Academy of General Dentistry.

This has been a year of great challenges and successes for the Florida Academy of General Dentistry!

I would like to first thank our departing President, Dr. Pete (Pedro) Castro for his superb leadership, wisdom and even-handed demeanor in leading our organization over the past year.  In promoting the mandates of the Academy of General Dentistry he has been a strong and effective representative of Florida’s General Dentists, locally and in Tallahassee.  His email signatures are always predicated with “In Your Service.”  Indeed, he has served his constituency with strength and wisdom, overseeing representation and the provision of quality continuing education for the General Dentists of our state.  Our thanks to Dr. Castro for his service!  I will look forward to his presence and guidance as I lead this year’s administration.

Personal, professional and administrative guidance has always been forthcoming from our Trustee, Dr. Robert “Bob” Gehrig and our Regional Director, Dr. Tony Menendez, both of whom serve as our liaison to our National Organization.

I would like to recognize our new Vice President, Dr. Merlin Ohmer who has served our organization as head of Continuing Education.  He has arranged numerous, extremely well attended continuing education programs such as our Botox and Dermal Filler Course, Sinus and Ridge Augmentation, CAD/CAM Restorations and others to resounding success.  Not only did it elevate the dental knowledge of our attendees, he kept our organization solvent and in the black!  Thanks to Dr. Ohmer!  I look forward to the many courses that are currently in the “pipeline” for the coming year!

The strength of our organization is only as good as the sum of the parts.  No action or decision would have been possible without the collective collaboration of our dedicated Board of Directors including Drs. Chris Wujick, Linda Trotter, Harvey Gordon, Naresh Kalra, Irving Carvajal, Mel Kessler, John Gammechia and Andrew Martin.  It has been a pleasure working with each of you over the past year and I look forward to our collaboration over the coming year with our new Member at Large, Dr. Darlenn Ayan.

Communication and the dissemination of information amongst us is essential!  We are very fortunate to have Dr. John Gammechia as our new Editor of the Florida Focus.  As a prominent and prolific blogger on the AGD “The Daily Grind,” John brings his superb journalist skills to our quarterly publication.  If you or your Component Society has information to share on any topic, including up-coming continuing education or articles of interest to General Dentistry, feel free to submit them to Dr. Gammechia or me for publication in Florida Focus, or our newly redesigned web or Facebook pages.

Last but not least, this date nearly marks the one year anniversary of our new Executive Director, Ms. Judy Nichols.  She has done a superb job of organizing our continuing education events, keeping our organization on a steady pattern of growth and stability.  I’d like to thank her for her hard work and organization skills, not least of all in putting together this General Assembly.

This has been an exciting year for the Florida Academy of General Dentistry.  FellowTrack programs have been established at our three state dental schools.  This year, Dr. Andrew Martin will act as Co-Director of the University of Florida Student FellowTrack alongside faculty member, Dr. Stephen Howard.  Dr. Harvey Gordon heads the FellowTrack Program at Nova Southeastern and Dr. Tony Menendez will usher in the first graduating class at Lecom School of Dental Medicine.  Not only has Dr. Menendez lectured his students, he has invited many to his office in a mentorship capacity.  The Academy of General Dentistry is one of the few dental organizations displaying steady growth while others are declining.  It is our hope that these FellowTrack programs will act as a vanguard for cultivating our future members and leaders.

The University of Florida Comprehensive Dentistry Program is now entering it’s 29th class and is one of the few programs in the country providing courses necessary to achieve Fellowship and Mastership in the Academy of General Dentistry.  Under the leadership of Dr. Jim Haddix, this two year program fosters current, cutting edge dental education for those wishing to attain the coveted Fellowship and Mastership designations.

The Academy of General Dentistry is more than 40,000 members strong!  Our members are uniquely dedicated to providing quality dental care through their exceptional passion for continuing education.  It’s exciting to note that a huge rebranding effort is reaching its final stages in Chicago which will emphasize our passion for excellence to the general public.  We are the only organization dedicated exclusively to the needs and interests of the general dentist and are anything but mediocre in our delivery to dental health care to the public we serve.

The issues facing general dentistry in our state and nation are known to all of us.  The rise of corporate dentistry, the attempt to introduce Midlevel providers and a medical collaborative model are at the forefront of our attention and concern.

The student debt issue has become more challenging over the past decade, with tuitions increasing at an alarming rate, making it more difficult for new graduates to assume a position as a care giver in a tradition “dental home” model.

The Florida Academy and our national organization are dedicated to supporting programs that help alleviate staggering student debt while at the same time removing barriers to care for underserved populations within our state via loan forgiveness and oral health literacy campaigns.  We strive to increase our numbers and therefore our voice when it comes to promoting legislation that will insure that citizens of our state and nation continue to receive quality dental care from a dentist who is responsible for the diagnosis, treatment, management and overall coordination of services related to a patient’s oral health needs before consideration of profit and personal gain.

I thank you for this opportunity to lead the Florida Academy over the next year and look forward to working with my Board of Directors in further the aforementioned goals.  I n the words of our Past President, Dr. Castro,  “I am at your service.”