Over the decades, the American College of Dentists has endeavored to develop and deploy current dental ethics curricula designed to enhance students’ levels of satisfaction with different teaching approaches and to mitigate reported difficulties in learning dental ethics concepts. Our teaching materials seek to reinforce the overall aims of dental education by creating responsible clinicians who will enhance and promote the general health and oral health of the people they serve in ways which fairly and justly respect their dignity, autonomy, and individual rights.

The ultimate goal of ethics education is to help providers recognize the humanistic and ethical components of health care and to translate and integrate ethical principles into clinical practice. Our expanding ethics teaching portfolio includes various methodologies ranging from the conventional lecture format to group discussions of case studies and narratives, problem-based learning, as well as the increasingly common use of audio-visuals and video vignettes. The American College of Dentists acknowledges that there are still many challenges in the preparation and delivery of dental ethics educational materials but we are committed to the iterative development of ethics content for our practice community.

Since the inception of the American College of Dentists, ethics and professionalism have been integral to the organization and its activities. The College was founded in part “…to aid in the advancement of the standards…of…dentistry…to encourage the development of a higher type of professional spirit.” Some of the more recent projects and activities in ethics and professionalism are presented chronologically:

1951“Guide to Ethics for the American College of Dentists”
1961 Professional Ethics in Dentistry book commissioned
1984 Dentistry—A Health Service published
1988 Recommendations made to ADA for teaching ethics; leads to guidelines used by AADS
1989 Symposium on ethics and ethics teaching materials produced
1996 Core Values and Aspirational Code of Ethics developed
1997 Ethics Wallet Card developed
1997 Dentistry—A Health Profession. A Guide to Professional Conduct published
1998 Ethics Summit I, St. Louis, Missouri
1999 New ADA CERP category, “Ethics, Law, and Professionalism,” created in response to ACD request
2000 Ethics Summit II, Nashville, Tennessee
2000 Ethics Handbook for Dentists published
2001 Electronic Ethics Handbook for Dentists, version 1.0, developed
2002 Initiated development of Position Paper dealing with Quackery and Fraud
2003 Multimedia Dental History Resource completed
2003 Position Paper dealing with Quackery and Fraud published
2004 Ethics Summit Initiative of Oral Health Organizations, Orlando, Florida
2004 Multimedia Dental History Resource released
2004 Courses Online Dental Ethics (CODE) developed,
2005 Supported the Access to Care Conference, Chicago, Illinois
2006 Ethics Summit on Commercialism, Chicago, Illinois, in collaboration with the ADA
2007 Symposium on Integrity and Ethics in Dental Education, ADA Building, Chicago
2007 Mini-symposium to Develop Dental Ethicists, Crystal City, Virginia
2008 Professional Ethics Initiative, Crystal City, Virginia
2008  Trial Integration with American Society for Dental Ethics, May 1
2008 Compiled 52 Ethical Dilemmas from Texas Dental
2008 Professional Ethics Initiative, Georgetown, Washington, D.C.
2008 ACD Ethics Program launched at ADA Annual Session in San Antonio
2009 Professional Ethics Initiative, Crystal City, Virginia
2010 Recommendation to ADA to treat ethics as a clinical subject for purposes of continuing education
2010 Prototype developed for the Interactive Dental Ethics Application (IDEA®)
2010 Professional Ethics Initiative, Chicago, Illinois
2011 Practice Ethics Assessment and Development Program
2012 Prototype developed for Dental Ethics Survey
2013 Prototype developed for Dental Ethics Forum
2014 Comprehensive Report on Dental Ethics Initiated
2015 Ethical Dilemma Videos for Dentists (and Students) produced in partnership with Indiana University
2016 Entered Trial Integration with Student Professionalism and Ethics Association includes liaison to Board of Regents
2017 Negotiated continued curricular development of Ethics Content for the next generation of dental providers
2018 Initiated website overhaul
2108 Circulated draft manuscript of the Gies Report 2020- Comprehensive Report on Dental Ethics 

Legacy Projects
Ethics Handbook for Dentists

A major ongoing project for the ACD Foundation, the Ethics Handbook for Dentists is designed for both dental students and practicing dentists. Over 6,000 handbooks, along with ethics wallet cards, are distributed annually at no charge to dental schools in the United States and Canada. A downloadable copy is available here.

For questions or information on ordering printed copies, contact the Executive Office in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

Dental Ethics

Dental Ethics is an ever-growing collection of online courses, resources, and materials related to dental ethics and is available online at Dental Ethics makes available courses (CODE), activities, and resources in dental ethics and professionalism to the dental community. Other Dental Ethics resources include a program to assess the ethical climate of your practice (PEAD) as well as a newly released Dental Ethics Primer by Bruce Peltier, Honorary Fellow and ASDE member.