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.