Lobby Day yields largest turnout ever

Conference draws more than 1,200 attendees

ADA President Linda J. Edgar, D.D.S., welcomes attendees to the seventh annual 2024 ADA Dentist and Student Lobby Day, which took place April 7-9 in Washington, D.C. Photo by Max Taylor.

A sea of dentists and dental students flooded to Washington, D.C., April 7-9 for the annual ADA Dentist and Student Lobby Day. With more than 1,200 people in attendance, this year’s group was the largest in the event’s seven-year history. 

Attendees, which included students from 55 dental schools, gathered together to discuss issues like student loan reform, dental benefit fees and workforce challenges through conversations and workshops. The event was hosted by the ADA and sponsored by the Association of Dental Support Organizations. 

Speaking up: Haleema Kamali, a dental student at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, was one of the 1,200 attendees who gathered in Washington, D.C., for Lobby Day.

ADA President Linda J. Edgar, D.D.S., thanked attendees for carving out time to advocate for dentistry, noting that the record-breaking participation “sends a powerful message about the strength and unity” of the dental community. 

“Our actions today pave the way for success tomorrow. They extend beyond the walls of our clinics, laboratories, offices and lecture halls. They resonate in schools in underserved communities and in the halls of power, where decisions directly impact the advancement of oral health care nationwide,” Dr. Edgar said. “Let us use this opportunity to engage with our lawmakers, learn from each other and shape the future of dentistry and oral health in our nation. United we stand, divided we fall. Together, we have the power to make a difference.”

The event featured various breakout sessions, including From Grassroots to Capitol Hill: Why Advocacy Matters, Advocacy for the Next Generation of Dentists, Leading for Impact in Advocacy and Beyond and ERISA – Impact on Dental Practices. 

Preparation is key: The conference featured an in-depth analysis of the issues attendees would present during their visits to Capitol Hill.

In the latter session, a panel of experts discussed the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, or ERISA. This federal law sets minimum standards for most voluntarily established dental plans in private industry for those with self-funded plans, but some carriers administering ERISA plans say that it preempts state insurance laws that protect patients. Randall Markarian, D.M.D., 8th District trustee, moderated the session and said it’s important to continue spreading awareness about the importance of pushing for ERISA reform. 

“The impact on practices is huge, because so many plans are ERISA plans. This is a way to make sure that all of our hard-fought victories at our state legislatures are not ignored. It is going to take a grassroots effort,” Dr. Markarian said. 

In the weeds: Randall Markarian, D.M.D., 8th District trustee, moderated a panel about the impact of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act's impact on dental practices.

The attendees advocated for several bills during their April 9 visits to Capitol Hill. These included the Dental and Optometric Care Access Act, which would prohibit dental and vision plans from setting the fees network doctors may charge for services not covered by the insurers; the Resident Education Deferred Interest Act and Dental Loan Repayment Assistance Act of 2023, which provides ways to help offset educational debt for dental and medical residents and faculty; and the Action for Dental Health Act, which aims to strengthen the oral health workforce by supporting workforce training and oral health programs with the goal of delivering care to underserved communities.

The conference featured an update on the ADA’s Give Veterans A Smile program, remarks from the Association of Dental Support Organizations, a role play on how to meet — and how not to meet — with your member of Congress, an “Inside Washington” update, and tips and tricks on how to tell your story to Congress. 

Follow all the Lobby Day fun on social media using the official hashtag, #ToothParty. For more information on the ADA’s advocacy efforts, visit

Recommended Content


© 2023 American Dental Association