Celebrating 100 Years of Comprehensive Dental Health Care in New Mexico
Three out of four dentists in New Mexico belong to the New Mexico Dental Association (NMDA), the comprehensive voice of dental health care in New Mexico. As the premiere dental association in the state, the NMDA is responsible for advocating for the art and science of dentistry on behalf of the people of New Mexico.
The NMDA was formed in 1908, four years before New Mexico’s official statehood, making it one of New Mexico’s oldest professional organizations. 2008 will mark the organization’s 100-year anniversary.
Formed by several New Mexico area dentists, the NMDA was originally created to serve as a forum where the professionals could discuss new procedures and collaborate on how to improve their services. However, the organization grew over the years and started taking on an expanded role – a role that included promoting dental health care and advancing the profession for new and established dentists.
According to Mark Moores, NMDA executive director, the organization’s evolution was spurred by New Mexico’s growth and influx of new dentists entering the state. “When the NMDA was formed in the early 1900s, it was basically an organization that provided dentists with a venue to meet and talk about their practices,” says Moores. “However, enrollment numbers steadily grew and the organization took an active role in advocating for its members and patients through community outreach programs and a strong presence in the state.”
Its success led to several changes including the implementation of a mission statement that has since become the cornerstone of the organization:
- Promote oral and general health care in New Mexico;
- Advance the art and science of dentistry;
- Represent interests of members of the dental profession, and;
- Foster an awareness of the obligation and responsibility of the dental profession to society.
The mission statement provides the NMDA with a clear outline of the responsibility it is entrusted with. “The organization is committed to New Mexico and the health welfare of all its residents,” adds Moores. “Our mission statement encompasses all the goals that our members strive to achieve on a daily basis in their dental practices.”
Backed by a strong contingent of dental professionals, the NMDA is governed by a board of officers and trustees, all of which are licensed dentists. They are tasked with ensuring that members are aware of legislation that can affect their practices and patients, educating members about the overall business climate for dentists in the state and supporting education and advocacy programs for members.
Not only is the organization an advocate for its members and patients, but it has also been a core contributor to the state’s economy for nearly a century. Each dentist employs dental hygienists, dental assistants and administrative personnel. Their offices and practices provide millions of dollars to the state’s economy each year and literally thousands of jobs for New Mexicans.
In addition, the organization plans to work with a state representative to introduce legislation within the next two years that will encompass a series of legislative pieces geared towards improving dental health for all New Mexicans. Known as the Brighter Smiles for New Mexico campaign, it will feature five legislative pieces aimed at improving dental health care for children, instituting a patient bill of rights that will simplify insurance benefits, lobbying for increased Medicaid benefits, promoting dental education opportunities, as well as reducing operational expenses for practicing dentists and breaking down barriers to access to care.
The introduction of the “Brighter Smiles for New Mexico” legislative package will be another proactive step for the NMDA to serve its members and patients throughout the state.
“We are very proud of the contributions the NMDA and its members have made to New Mexico. The organization has been around for 100 years and continues to become stronger year after year,” says Moores. “We are thrilled with our role as the premiere dental health organization in the state and look forward to the next 100 years.”
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