Dr. Michael W. Davis maintains a private general practice in Santa Fe, NM. He also advocates for disadvantaged citizens, and provides expert legal work for numbers of attorney clients. His publications and lectures are on ethical and whistleblower issues within the dental profession, as well as numbers of clinical research papers. He may be contacted at: MWDavisDDS@comcast.net
There are a myriad of individuals who jump in their careers between corporate dentistry, the insurance industry, education and professional organized dentistry. This is not evidence of corruption or collusion, but often represents a disturbing appearance of conflict-of-interest. The apparent conflict-of-interest often undermines the integrity and ethical standing of professional dental organizations and academic institutions. Rank-and-file doctors, as well as the general public, should begin to question whose interests are truly represented. Some names on this list are high profile individuals in leadership roles. Others are less well known, but nevertheless highly influential.
1. James Bramson, DDS
- Executive Director Massachusetts Dental Society (1997-2001). Organized Dentistry
- Executive Director American Dental Association (ADA) (2001-2008). Organized Dentistry
- Chief Dental Officer- United Concordia Companies, Inc. (2011-2017). Insurance Industry
2. Kathleen T. O’Loughlin DMD, MPH
- President & CEO Delta Dental of Massachusetts (2001-2006). Insurance Industry
- Chief Dental Officer United Health Group (a/k/a United Healthcare, Oral Health Foundation a Medicaid managed care organization inclusive of DentaQuest) (2008-2009). Insurance Industry
- Executive Director of ADA (2009-pres.). Organized Dentistry
3. Steve M. Adair, DDS, MS
- Taught specialty of pediatric dentistry and later chaired the department at Eastman Dental Center (1983-1990). Education
- Chair dental pediatric specialty program at Medical College of Georgia (1990-2003). Education
- Board of Trustees American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (1998-2001). Organized Dentistry
- Editor-in-Chief American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry Journal (2004-2008). Organized dentistry, Education
- Chief Dental Officer & Senior Vice President, for Clinical Quality Initiatives and Education for Small Smiles Dental (a/k/a CSHM- a disgraced and bankrupt corporate dental chain involved with Medicaid fraud and child abuses). Corporate Dentistry
- Senior Clinical Affairs Advisor for DentaQuest (a dental Medicaid managed care organization) (2016-pres.). Insurance Industry
4. Todd R. Cruse
- Senior Vice President for Development & Chief Development Officer for Small Smiles Dental (a/k/a CSHM- a disgraced and bankrupt corporate dental chain involved with Medicaid fraud and child abuses). Corporate Dentistry
- Vice President Government Relations for DentaQuest (a dental Medicaid managed care organization) (2013-2014). Insurance Industry
- Vice President of Public Affairs for DentaQuest (2014-2015). Insurance Industry
- President DentaQuest Care Group (2015-pres.). Insurance Industry
5. Ronald E. Inge, DDS
- Dental Director with Delta Dental (1999-2002). Insurance Industry
- Chief Dental Officer Aetna (insurance company) (2002-2004). Insurance Industry
- ADA Associative Executive Director for Dental Practice (2004-2005). Organized Dentistry
- Chief Dental Officer Delta Dental of Washington (2005-2014). Insurance Industry
- Executive Director Institute for Oral Health (2006-2014). Education
- Chief Dental Officer Western Dental/ Brident (corporate dental chain with long history of dental malpractice litigations) (2014-2016). Corporate Dentistry
- Chief Dental Officer and VP of Professional Services Delta Dental of Missouri (2016-pres.). Insurance Industry
6. John R. Luther, DDS
- ADA Senior Vice President for Dental Practice and Professional Affairs (2005-2009). Organized Dentistry
- Chief Dental Officer at Optum Health/ United HealthCare (2009-2012). Insurance Industry
- Chief Dental Officer and Senior VP Dental Management for DentaQuest (2012-2015). Insurance Industry
- CEO for DentalOne corporate dental chain (2015-2016). Corporate Dentistry
- CEO for Western Dental/ Brident corporate dental chain (2016-pres.). Corporate Dentistry
7. R. Quinn Dufurrena, DDS, JD
- Associate Professor Oregon Health Science University (1997-1998). Education
- Executive Director Idaho Dental Association (2008-2011). Organized Dentistry
- Executive Director Colorado Dental Association (2011-2014). Organized Dentistry
- Executive Director Association of Dental Support Organizations, corporate dentistry’s largest lobbyist group (2014-2016). Corporate Dentistry
- Chief Dental Officer United Concordia Dental Insurance (2017-pres.). Insurance Industry
8. Deena J. Ali, RDH, MBA
- Clinical faculty University of Kansas City, Missouri (2001-2004). Education
- Registered dental hygienist at DentalOne, corporate dental chain (2004-2007). Corporate Dentistry
- Various management positions at DentalOne, corporate dental chain (2005-2015). Corporate Dentistry
- Vice President of Practice Operations for Tru Family Dental, corporate dental chain (2015-2016). Corporate Dentistry
- Vice President of Practice Development for Enhanced Dental (2016-pres.). Education
9. Heidi Arndt, RDH
- Clinical instructor at Rochester Community and Technical College (2000-2002). Education
- Clinical instructor at Century College (2002-2004). Education
- Director of Dental Hygiene Development with American Dental Partners, a national chain of corporate dental clinics (2002-2010). Corporate Dentistry
- CEO and founder of Enhanced Hygiene (2011-pres.). Education
10. Edward H. Meckler, DMD
- Assistant Clinical Professor Case Western Reserve School of Dental Medicine (1974-pres.) Education
- Board member American Dental Association Business Enterprises, Inc. Organized Dentistry
- Chairman and founder DentalOne Partners, corporate dental chain with disturbing actions. (1981-pres.) Corporate Dentistry
- Founder of Sears Family Dental Centers (1981). Corporate Dentistry
- Executive Director for Association of Dental Support Organizations, corporate dentistry’s largest lobbyist group (2007-2013). Corporate Dentistry
This 10-name list is not the be-all and end-all. I’m certain many of our readers have their own “favorites”, which could easily make the top-10 list. Examples might include Dr. Randall W. Ellis, who formerly taught in the Department of Pediatric Dentistry at Creighton University School of Dentistry. He then went onto Small Smiles Dental to masquerade as a dental clinic owner for multiple clinics, in support of corporate owned and directed dental Medicaid healthcare.
Another list possibility might include William A. Mueller, DMD, who initially served as a residency program educator in the Pediatric Dental Department, at Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati, OH. Dr. Mueller also formerly educated residents in the Division of Pediatric Dentistry, at The Children’s Hospital in Denver, CO. He contributed to the pediatric dental research literature in the field of sedation. Dr. Mueller ended his dental career in a disturbing management position with Small Smiles Dental (a/k/a Forba). He likewise acted as a sham-owner for several dental clinics owned and operated by corporate dentistry. In the end, Dr. Mueller had several state dental board consent agreements served and finalized against him.
Another professional figure of this ilk is Paul O. Walker, DDS MS. Dr. Walker had a highly distinguished career with the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry in a variety of educational and leadership capacities. He formerly was a dean at Baylor College of Dentistry. Dr. Walker has also played a very active role in leadership and direction of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. Today (perhaps sadly), Dr. Walker is the Vice President for Clinical Quality with the Kool Smiles Dental corporate chain of Medicaid clinics.
Organized dentistry and academia must assume the highest levels of integrity and avoid even the appearance of a conflict-of-interest with leadership personnel. Yet today, we’re in a climate in which dental universities freely accept sponsorships and grant money, from corporate dentistry and the US insurance industry. Likewise, organized dentistry enjoys funding from ad revenues and sponsorship of corporate dentistry and the insurance industry. Ethical boundaries of non-collusion seem clouded for rank-and-file doctors and the public.
Institutions and organizations which receive public moneys and/or funding from doctors at-large must avoid even the slightest appearance of any conflict-of-interest. The dental profession and public welfare might be better served with the following:
1. Employees of a public educational program or organized dentistry agree to a 3-5 year moratorium, prior to eligibility for employment with the insurance industry or corporate dentistry.
2. Programs in dental education or organized dentistry establish a time delay of 3-5 years, prior to hiring an individual from the insurance industry or corporate dentistry.
3. Full transparency in the relationships at dental educational institutions given relating to operations of corporate dentistry and the insurance industry. Open and frank discussions must be encouraged for students, faculty and alumni.
4. Meetings of officials in organized dentistry or dental academia with representatives of corporate dentistry or the insurance industry afforded full and open disclosures, as to the timeframes, discussion agendas, and personnel attending.
Failure by dental academia and organized dentistry to assume strict measures against even the slightest appearance of a conflict-of-interest will not be taken well by the dental profession or public. Membership in organized dentistry groups is falling. Trust in the ethical standing of dental academia and professional organized groups need not face further doubts. This is a situation worth addressing.