American College of Dentists

839-J Quince Orchard Boulevard
Gaithersburg MD 20878

Dental Ethics: Welcome! Dental Ethics is an ever-growing collection of online courses, resources, and materials related to dental ethics—a type of ethics resource clearinghouse. The purpose Dental Ethics is to heighten ethical and professional responsibility, promote ethical conduct and professionalism in dentistry, advance dialogue on ethical issues, and stimulate reflection on common ethical problems in dental practice.

Dental Ethics makes available courses, activities, and resources in dental ethics and professionalism to the dental community. Courses Online Dental Ethics (CODE) is a major section of Dental Ethics and consists of online courses and self-assessment activities in dental ethics and professionalism—with most available for C.E. credit. Other Dental Ethics resources include a program to assess the ethical climate of your practice and an interactive dental ethics application that is similar to an electronic textbook with interactive capability. The current sections of Dental Ethics include:

CODE– online courses designed to verse professors, students, hygienists, and practicing dentists in dental ethics and professionalism.

PEAD– a series of self assessment exercises used to keep practicioners in tune with the ethical climate of their office and how to improve it.

IDEA– a comprehensive digital dental ethics resource that has both interactive and multimedia capability.

Dental Ethics was developed by the American College of Dentists. The first course of Courses Online Dental Ethics (CODE) is based on the Ethics Handbook for Dentists first published in 2000 by the American College of Dentists and depicted on the right (revised in 2012). Some courses are based on ethical dilemmas published in the Texas Dental Journal and used with permission. General inquiries about either CODE or the handbook should be directed to the American College of Dentists using the contact information above. The Ethics Handbook for Dentists is made available on a complimentary basis to educational institutions and other qualifying dental organizations (quantities may limited).

American College of Dentists:

The American College of Dentists (ACD) is the oldest major honorary professional organization for dentists. Its members have exemplified excellence through outstanding leadership and exceptional contributions to dentistry and society. In response to serious problems facing the profession, the College was founded August 20, 1920, to elevate the standards of dentistry, to encourage graduate study, and to grant Fellowship to those who have done meritorious work. The College is nonprofit and apolitical, and has long been regarded as the “conscience of dentistry.”

The mission of the College is to advance excellence, ethics, professionalism, and leadership in dentistry. The following principles and objectives have been adopted in the furtherance of accomplishing the mission:

To promote within the dental profession the highest ethical standards, stimulate interprofessional relationships, and urge upon the professional person recognition of one’s responsibility to participate in the affairs of society as a citizen of the community; To take an active role in the support of dental education and research; To encourage qualified persons to enter the profession of dentistry; To encourage graduate education and improve continuing educational efforts by dentists and auxiliaries;

To encourage the free exchange of ideas and experiences in the interest of the patient; To foster the extension and improvement of measures for the prevention and control of oral disorders; To confer Fellowship in the College on individuals in recognition of meritorious achievement and their potential for contributions in dental science, art, education, literature, human relations, and other areas that contribute to human welfare and to give encouragement to them to further the objectives of the College.

The ACD is the oldest major honorary society for dentists. We provide continuing education in ethics and leadership for dentists, ethics materials for dental students, and publish a Journal with articles on a broad range of thought-provoking topics.

As the American College of Dentists celebrates its 100th anniversary, its leaders are ready to continue their mission of advancing excellence, ethics, professionalism and leadership in dentistry.

Centennial Reflections:

The City of Rockville, Maryland, Historic District Commission approved the College’s request to remove the concrete sidewalk and replace it with a brick Legacy Walk featuring engraved bricks from Fellows, friends, and family. For a donation to the ACD Foundation your brick will be engraved with two lines of text, up to 20 characters per line. This is a memorable way to recognize the value of the College and, most importantly, the devoted service ACD Fellows give to the profession and society.

Research completed by the Rockville Preservation Planner indicated that the property had previously been the site of a brick driveway to a carriage house serving our neighbor at 101 North Adams, one of the oldest structures in Rockville, so all parties were happy to see this small part of the Montgomery Avenue Historic District restored. The last remaining part of the original brick carriage drive is pictured below and will be left intact during the construction of the ACD Foundation Legacy Walk.

A part of our centennial celebration, we will look at the profiles of our organization forebears and their contributions to the profession. It seems entirely appropriate to begin with Dr. C. Edmund “Eddie” Kells often regarded as the father of dental radiography.

There were many issues facing the dental profession in the 1920s- but key among the concerns was the widely promulgated focal theory of infection. Many influential physicians popularized the belief that the oral cavity represented a particularly significant nidus of infection and the teeth should be routinely removed to prevent oral sepsis and thereby attenuate some of the most significant systemic diseases of the time. The medical community favored extraction to any repair of the dentition. In short, full mouth extractions were essentially prescribed by the medical community until the theory was disproven and fell out of favor by the 1940s. Dr. Kells’ recommendation to the dental profession was that no dentist “will extract a tooth upon orders of a physician.” Against the staunch resistance of his medical colleagues, Dr. Kells held to his convictions and advanced his theories on conservative cavity preparation and necessity of ‘saving’ pulpless teeth. Dr. Kells was an inventor and he held numerous patents as he worked to develop the armamentarium necessary to perform increasingly complex dental procedures.

He was an early adopter of the routine use of radiographs in dental practice and he endeavored to perfect intraoral radiographic technique. His interest in the emerging field of radiology and his pioneering work would cost him dearly later in his life. The dangers of radiation were not entirely known to the those engaged in the study of this emerging technology. Dr. Kells would subsequently be diagnosed with epidermoid carcinoma of his left thumb. After more than thirty surgical interventions designed to control the malignancy of the affected limb, and now with the involvement of his right limb and the associated unrelenting chronic neuropathic pain – Dr. Kells ended his life without apparent regret. He did not lament his fate but rather spoke openly of the benefits to patients in the management of their disease. “That a few should suffer for the benefit of millions is a law of nature”.


Map of American College of Dentists 839-J Quince Orchard Boulevard, Gaithersburg MD 20878

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