The ADA… Is Watching Me… They See My Every Move

With a hat tip to Hall & Oates’ “Private Eyes.”

spy3Today was an interesting day.  I had two new patients that came to me via my website.  I always ask how they found me, my site, and why they chose my practice over others if they visited other dentists’ websites.  The first new patient mentioned that she was impressed with my reviews on Google.  The second also mentioned my reviews as an influence on his decision.  But, he also liked the photos of actual patients on my website.

But, something else happened today that was truly titillating.  I got a special email from the ADA.  It wasn’t spam or a mass email.  It was to me, from them – the ADA.  It reads:

Dear Dr. Mike,

We notice that on the “resume” portion of your website you list membership in the American Dental Association and Tripartite organizations.  Our understanding is that is not the case, and has not been for approximately 10 years.  Listing a former membership without indicating that it is a former membership can be considered false and misleading in a way that is injurious to both the identified associations and others visiting your site.  Given some of your opinions about the ADA we assume this lack of specificity on your part is an oversight.  We ask you to correct it by removing or modifying the ADA listing on your site.  We will check back with you in a week or so.


XXXXXXX XXXXXXX, Senior Associate General Counsel, American Dental Association


My response:


Thanks for your email.  Gosh, I guess I haven’t looked at that page in a long time.  The ADA references have been removed.  My apologies for that, and I appreciate you drawing my attention to it.  My website has over 50 pages, and some of them have been neglected a bit.

I’m also glad to hear that you’re aware of my opinions of the ADA.   I would LOVE to help, but it seems a lost cause.  I did try for many years of active participation and service on the local affiliate board.  I DO care and have regular lunch meetings with a local delegate who is a good friend.  We talk about dental issues and the ADA quite a bit.  I’d rejoin in an instant if I could believe the ADA was actually looking out for my beloved profession.

Thanks again for the heads-up about my web page.  Done and done.


I fixed my web page and sent my reply within 2 hours of receiving the email.  I absolutely agree and understand that they would not want dentists to misrepresent their membership in the ADA.  And, it was never my intention.  It was an honest oversight on a deeply-placed webpage that gets 0.5% of the traffic on my website.  That traffic figure is not hyperbole.  I checked!  Not once since I created my website in 1999, has a patient mentioned viewing my resume as a factor in choosing my practice.  Accordingly and naturally, I have simply not even looked at that page in quite some time.

Secret Service AgentThe attorney’s very valid point aside, I have to admit I’m quite amused and bemused.  The fact that the ADA’s attorney apparently had the free time to search for MY website and then drill down through two menus to find my resume is impressive and noteworthy.

Furthermore, it’s obvious that the ADA is aware of my feelings towards the organization.  I suppose they may be following some of the ADA threads on

I’m not the only one that has lost faith in the ADA.  And, the plummeting membership numbers reflect that.  They’re bleeding members.  We don’t feel they represent us, nor do they address our concerns.  But, instead of listening, they regurgitate their talking points.  They shun us and dismiss our concerns.

I was a member for many years, and I DID “get involved”…. all the way to President of the local affiliate association.

Several times in recent years, as one of many “Key Opinion Leaders” (KOLs), I’ve been invited by various dental manufacturers to be a part of what I would call “focus groups.”  They have us test and review their products and materials.  They ask for honest feedback.  It’s a fantastic and productive exercise.

I submit that the ADA would do well to meet with KOLs that have dropped their membership.  Instead of being defensive, they should LISTEN.  Yes, we know the ADA DOES accomplish some good things.  But, they’re ignoring other issues important to us.  If the ADA would like to become REALLY effective with the grassroots being the real strength of the organization, they could learn a thing or two from the NRA.  Yes.  I said it, and objectively, it’s TRUE.

I would LOVE to get together (along with some non-member colleagues that are more qualified than I am) with the powers that be in the ADA.  Let’s get this sorted out and make our profession STRONG.  Shall I hold my breath?

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8 Responses to The ADA… Is Watching Me… They See My Every Move

  1. Mike Rice, DMD says:

    Couldn’t agree more! Would LOVE the opportunity to tell them about the issues that we face on a daily basis, and have them actually listen.

  2. Kate says:

    You have me seriously debating about renewing my membership.

  3. Michael Nugent says:


    I dropped my membership this year. I joined right after Dental School in 2005.

    ADA is not doing anything for me.

  4. Fred Joyal says:

    I imagine that they scoured your website and blog for anything incriminating after reading your post about their inevitable death, Mike. Imagine their disappointment when their attorney only found their logo. The problem with most institutions and governments is that they become deeply entrenched and inflexible, and married to their bad or outdated decisions and policies. By their nature they are hard to reinvigorate, but not impossible. It will start with listening, and not being defensive but trying to remember what their actual purpose is. They console themselves that they have 65% of dentists. What percentage of the KOL’s do they have, I wonder? That’s the real indicator of irrelevance or imminent death, to me.

    • The Dental Warrior says:

      Hi Fred,

      Thanks for your insightful comments. If I recall, the membership rate used to be 80% or higher. I know the local branches are having a tough time with membership.

  5. David Moffet says:

    Nice post Mike, I’ll be sharing it with some of my colleagues Down Under.

    You raise some great points!!

  6. Brian K. Van Netta, DDS says:

    Hi Mike. I have another thought I’d like your feedback on. When I was an ADA member, our state dental organization endorsed the concept of ‘direct reimbursement’ in which a company set up an in-house benefit system for the employees. It could essentially be run by a few individuals and could be structured anyway the company desired. Yearly maximums, percentages, etc. could be determined as desired. The patient could see any doctor they wished, decide on treatment, pay the doctor, then simply present the receipts to the HR dept. and be reimbursed according to the company’s framework plan. Pretty simple.

    Essentially, these are the patient’s benefits: could see the doctor they desired. No interference or limitations from 3rd parties, very straight forward, and reimbursement in a fairly expedient manner.

    The companies benefitted in this way: simple to set up and run, cheaper than paying insurance premiums in advance, and if any employees didn’t go to the dentist, there was nothing to be paid out.

    We benefit as this places care and decision making back where it belongs, with doctor and patient, and less hassles administratively with no claims, pre-auths., and all the other crap we deal with.

    Sounds great. I did some of the math. It really has huge potential. Here in Michigan, White Castle Systems, the hamburger corporation, has implemented this system for years with success. It literally could save corporations millions over the long haul.
    Why has the ADA not pushed this more? Why hasn’t anyone pushed this more? I rarely hear anymore about this currently. Do you feel the ADA has swept it under the rug due to their relationship with the insurance industry? With the exception of eliminating insurance participation altogether at our individual offices, the concept of ‘direct reimbursement’ could surely solve quite a few problems if adopted on a large scale. I could not figure out why it wasn’t done. Thanks, Mike

    • The Dental Warrior says:

      When I was on the board, DR was a big thing. And, I have to admit never quite understanding it. It seemed rather convoluted and effectively a duplication of so-called “insurance.” To me, it appeared to be the same thing (as “insurance”) but with a different administrator. Still had to submit claims, yearly maxes, percentages, etc. I never “got it.” I never understood how it was DIFFERENT.

      As for your speculation of why the ADA dropped the effort… It could be simple apathy. Or it could be more nefarious, as you alluded. I just don’t know.

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