Looking to the Future: Dr. Gerald J. Botko Shares Final Thoughts as AGD President

  • by Gerald J. Botko, DMD, MS, MAGD
  • Nov 7, 2022
I have seen dentistry from many different views. I’ve been a practice owner and a military dentist while an Army colonel, as well as served as chief of dental services for the Veterans Administration in Miami, Florida. I’ve been a member of the faculty for continuing dental education programs like AGD’s scientific session and volunteered to support those in need of oral care through mission work and other efforts. 

One of the greatest honors of my life is my service to AGD as its president. It is through this lens that I am truly grateful to the leaders who elected and supported me and to the AGD members. 

On Sunday, I hand over my responsibilities to Hans P. Guter, DDS, FAGD, who will be sworn in as the new AGD president. As I wrap up my time, I wanted to share a few parting thoughts about what I’ve seen in my time in this role.

Continuing Dental Education
As we all know, dentistry is constantly changing and evolving with new innovations in technology, methodology, and advanced techniques and materials. This includes CAD/CAM digital crowns and dentures, 3D printers, surgical robotics, lasers, diagnostic efficiency, and new methodical business models.

It is imperative for good dentists to embrace these innovations and be lifelong learners. General dentists must invest in themselves to be the best they can be. The more one learns, the more one wants to know. AGD is synonymous with excellence in dental education, and our Dental Education Council is continually looking to innovate our offerings with more blended learning, multi-channel learning, micro-education and increased new dentist engagement as well as increased efficiency with our new learning management system.

This past year, I toured dental schools, dental learning centers and dental conferences and met people who are truly committed to advancing their understanding of the tools and techniques that will help them better serve patients. I’ve seen their enthusiasm for the profession and desire to know more by engaging with AGD and other programs that build confidence and knowledge. Being lifelong learners helps general dentists see a place for themselves in the future by allowing them to be prepared.

Be a Strong Advocate
Our mission includes advocacy — which is our strength, our voice and our muscle as the defenders of our general practice and our profession. One statement I’ve heard over the past two years is that “general dentists need to drive the narrative and not play defense.” This means continuing to emphasize the importance of oral health literacy and the dental home. Patients trust their dentists, and our legislators must understand how we contribute to the overall health and the roles we play in our communities.

General dentists are vital. We are essential. And we must never waiver in our focus to advocate for our profession. We must never let each other lose sight of the power of our voices and the need to speak up for our profession wherever and whenever oral health is an issue. 

Maintain a Strong Network
A key to success in general dentistry is mentorship and creating a strong network. We all have different interests and skill sets, and AGD gives us the space to make connections, share experiences and transfer knowledge. This is one of the things that I have valued most about my AGD experience. 

When we meet, interact and share ideas, frustrations, threats and solutions to problems that we face every day in our profession, we learn from each other more than we can learn from a course. Research shows that professional networks help us feel more confident and less stressed in our busy days and lives.

Look to others to help you, or check to see if you know someone who might need your help. We are stronger together, and I encourage you to seek opportunities to build a larger and stronger AGD community. 

Looking to the Future
I'm proud to be part of an organization that is constantly evolving — one that is dedicated not only to the needs of its current members but also to new professionals and future members who will continue to help AGD grow and remain relevant.

Change is inevitable, and progress and growth will never come to those who stubbornly resist change and insist on the status quo. Get involved, and find out how you can help. There is so much we can do together.

Thank you again for allowing me to connect with you and serve AGD.