New ADA president calls for less talking, more action

Linda J. Edgar, D.D.S., addresses House of Delegates

Linda J. Edgar, D.D.S., addresses the ADA House of Delegates in Orlando Oct. 10.

Orlando — The Elvis Presley song “A Little Less Conversation” boomed through the speakers at the ADA House of Delegates Oct. 10.

The song, with the lyrics, “A little less conversation, a little more action,” was the closer for ADA President Linda J. Edgar, D.D.S., as she finished her speech to the House. It may have been the end of her speech, but the song’s theme resonated throughout its entirety.

Dr. Edgar, a general dentist from Federal Way, Washington, outlined the activities in her past where she took action and programs she already has moving forward.

“I would rather get three things accomplished than talk about doing 100 things,” Dr. Edgar said. 

She detailed her running career, one she began at the age of 24 after two miscarriages. 

“I ran 45 marathons with a best time of 2:42 in 10 years, averaging 107 miles a week. After a year of injuries, and only three months of training, I qualified for the first Women's Olympic Marathon Trials in 2:50:59, with only 17 seconds to spare, and completed two Ironmen Triathlons in 12 and a half hours at age 45 and 46,” Dr. Edgar said. “My athletic career taught me that anything is possible with enough determination and hard work. I learned to get up each time I fell. This mentality carried me through both my personal and professional endeavors —because as we all know, dentistry and life can be tough.” 

When she was 36, she crashed in an Ironman competition and broke four ribs. Her husband, Bryan Edgar, D.D.S., went to the University of Washington Dental School and got an application.

“He gave it to me and said, “’I think you should apply. You would be good at this, and it might be safer than doing the Ironman.’”

As for the present and future, Dr. Edgar detailed her work to expand the Lessons in a Lunch Box initiative nationwide. Founded by the Children’s Oral Health Institute in 2008, Lessons in a Lunch Box is an oral health literacy program designed to provide children and families with information on routine dental care, positive dietary choices and careers in dentistry.

Dr. Edgar has been a vocal proponent of the program, prompting the ADA Board of Trustees to expand the program and commit $75,000 to the Children’s Oral Health Institute

“The initial round of funding goes toward 10,000 lunch boxes to be distributed during National Children’s Health Month in February. To further amplify outreach efforts, the Children’s Oral Health Institute and the Lessons in a Lunchbox program had a presence at this year’s SmileCon, and earlier this week, the program was presented to second- and third-graders at Washington Shores Elementary School here in Orlando,” Dr. Edgar told the House. 

She gave them instructions on how they can sponsor a school and referenced her efforts to directly reach out to House members by mail to raise additional funds.

“With your support, my goal is to distribute a total of 20,000 lunchboxes across the country,” Dr. Edgar said. “What if together we could create a tipping point that could help reduce tooth decay in children?” 

She also pointed House members toward jars of wristbands that say ‘you too can be a dentist, a hygienist or an assistant,’ encouraging them to take one and make a personal connection with a young person. 

Dr. Edgar also detailed a Facebook group she plans to start for all women and dental students and a contest for members to recruit new ADA members for a chance to win a trip to Hawaii. Each House member was also given a one-page sheet titled “What Has the ADA Done for Me Lately?” to help with their recruiting efforts.

“It highlights the ADA's invaluable contributions and the benefits of joining our professional family — from the benefits of licensure portability, wellness tools, and insurance advocacy, to FDA-recognized standards testing for the products used to keep you and your patients safe, student loan and tuition reform and developing real dental insurance,” Dr. Edgar said. “Caring for others and inviting them in: That is how we build community.”

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