Ohio Dental Association celebrates 150th anniversary

The first known photo of the original Dental Board of Examiners. This photo was taken in 1869. The Ohio State Dental Society worked to get the Ohio legislature to pass one of the first dental laws in America, which created the Dental Board of Examiners.

The Ohio Dental Association is proud to be celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2016.

Throughout 2016, the ODA will be celebrating its anniversary by highlighting its successes in the “ODA Today,” on Twitter and in a 150th anniversary video. The celebration will culminate at the 150th ODA Annual Session, which will be Sept. 15-18. The Callahan Celebration of Excellence will take place Friday, Sept. 16 in honor of the ODA’s 150th anniversary and will include a sesquicentennial cake ceremony. 

“Our profession thrives because we insist upon the highest standards of care, scientific-based training, and professional ethics,” said Dr. Chris Connell, ODA president. “The incredible advancements we have made as a profession would not have been possible without organizations like the Ohio Dental Association leading the way. And throughout 2016, we will take a moment to reflect on where we have been and where we are going.”

Since its founding in 1866, the ODA has had a long history of success. From the beginning, the Ohio Dental Association has had a strong focus on advocacy, ethics and dental education.

The Ohio State Dental Society was formed in 1866 with the purpose of “mutual fellowship and recognition, the promoting of the honor, usefulness and interests of the profession, the advancement and cultivation of professional science and literature, the encouragement of a more thorough professional education, and the protection of the public from empiricism.”

At its first meeting, the society created what is believed to be the first formal dental code of ethics. Today, ethics continues to be a strong focus of organized dentistry, as all members agree to adhere to the American Dental Association “Principles of Ethics and Code of Professional Conduct.”

The society also began its advocacy efforts at its first meeting. The society’s first fight was against Goodyear Dental Vulcanite Company, which was demanding that dentists purchase a license before they could use rubber in any form for dentures. Society members present at the meeting each contributed $10 to help in the fight. The struggle went on for many years, when in 1875 the Supreme Court decided against the dentists. The conflict finally came to an end when an irate dentist from California shot the company’s investigator and treasurer.

In 1868, the Ohio State Dental Society held a special meeting to discuss creating a law regulating dentistry. The dental profession realized the importance of legislating itself in order to do away with the “quackery” that had been prominent in earlier years, and the legislature passed the law on May 8, 1868. The law created a board of examiners that was responsible for yearly examinations and certifying those dentists who passed. The board also would list the names and addresses of practicing dentists and had the power to take legal actions against illegal or unprofessional practitioners.

In the early 1900s, the Ohio State Dental Society’s legislative committee was able to prevent Ohio’s 3 percent sales tax from applying to dental services. The society successfully argued that dentistry was a health profession and should not be taxed.

In the 1950s and ’60s, the ODA successfully lobbied for water fluoridation in Ohio, and today more than 90 percent of Ohioans live in communities with fluoridated water.

Today, the ODA’s advocacy efforts and successes continue. The Ohio Dental Political Action Committee (ODPAC) advocates for the dental profession by supporting the campaigns of pro-dentistry candidates for office. Additionally, the ODA’s legislative team closely monitors legislative activity and works to protect dental practices against unnecessary government intervention, improve access to dental care, promote office efficiency, fight against unfair insurance practices and frivolous lawsuits and more. The ODA’s grassroots advocacy efforts, including the ODA’s Day at the Statehouse, help keep the profession’s voice strong at the Statehouse.

Another important focus of the society since its beginning has been dental education. In the society’s early days, it pushed to establish more dental schools in Ohio and demanded higher standards and better practitioners.

The Ohio Dental Association continues to support dental education, by partnering with the American Student Dental Association chapters at both OSU and CWRU for events and initiatives. Additionally, the ODA Foundation awards scholarships to dental students to help offset the cost of dental education.

Annual Session has also been a yearly component of the society since 1866. Since its first meeting, there has always been a scientific component. In those early years, topics included sessions on dental techniques, materials and instruments, as well as professional ethics.  Today, the ODA Annual Session features nationally known speakers on topics for the entire dental team.

In 1912, the Ohio State Dental Association joined the National Dental Association. In the early 1900s, the society also was urging members to form local component societies. By 1932, a total of 23 component organizations had been created and the tripartite structure that is used today emerged.

The organization also has been providing information to dentists from an early time. Initially, the society used a journal published by an outside company as its official voice. After the journal was discontinued in 1925, the society passed a resolution in 1926 to publish a society-owned bulletin. The publication was originally called the “Bulletin of the Ohio State Dental Society” and soon changed its name to the “Journal of the Ohio State Dental Society.” Today, the ODA continues to make it a priority to inform members through publications, including the “ODA Today,” “NewsBytes” and “generationD,” and online at www.oda.org.

Access to care has also been a focus of Ohio dental societies for some time. In the 1940s, the Cleveland Dental Society held the first Children’s Dental Health Day, and the Akron Dental Society held the first Children’s Dental Health Week, which was adopted nationally by the American Dental Association. Now, February is recognized as Children’s Dental Health Month, and it includes Give Kids a Smile Day to help provide care to children in need.

In 1947, the Ohio State Dental Society changed its name to the Ohio State Dental Association. In 1967, it changed its name to the Ohio Dental Association as it is known today.

In 1984, the ODA created the Ohio Dental Association Services Corp. (ODASC) as a separate independent subsidiary of the ODA to assist member dentists with various aspects of running a dental practice. Today, ODASC continues to help dentists save money by securing discounts on products and services available exclusively for ODA members and by finding products and services that provide the best value for the price.

Today, the Ohio Dental Association serves nearly 5,000 members.

“At this moment in time, we have the rare opportunity to look back at our accomplishments, then throughout the year take time to enjoy our successes, while we continue advancing work on our current programs and projects,” Connell said.

Historical Photos

Do you have photos that were taken at past Ohio Dental Association events? The ODA is interested in utilizing your photos in the “ODA Today” and in other materials related to the 150th anniversary. If you would like to submit a historical photo for consideration, please email it to jackie@oda.org or mail a copy to Ohio Dental Association, Attention Jackie Best, 1370 Dublin Rd. Columbus, OH 43215.