Cosmetic Dentistry Blog Cosmetic and General Dentistry Questions Answered

July 27, 2010

The History of AACD Accreditation

Filed under: Becoming a Cosmetic Dentist — mesasmiles @ 2:01 am

Dr Hall,
Just wanted to let you know I referenced you when writing for a website.

I had a related question. It has been very difficult getting certain information regarding the early AACD accredited dentists and so it makes me feel that there is something to hide. My respect for you is considerable and that’s why I hope you will be forthright with me on this. I wanted to find out if the early doctors were conferred accreditation without much ado. It’s happened before and with other new organizations, such as the fellowship I received, but I think it would be better to be up front about stating that the founders became accredited without examinations and case submission rather than be untruthful.

Kindest Regards,
A cosmetic dentist in Chicago

Dear —
Thank you for your kind words.

I was there in Toronto in 1986 when the AACD first announced the accreditation program. The first dentists accredited didn’t have to pass an exam, because there was no accreditation committee – they had to start somewhere. So there was some agreement that certain of the charter members were skilled enough, and there wasn’t any exam anyway, because there was no one recognized to examine the others. Jack Kammer, the founder, Michael Miller, the first accreditation chair, and others were accredited by being “drafted” so to speak. Those dentists then set up the examination protocol and formed a committee to judge the skills of dentists who wanted to become accredited.

For a while after that, to be able to get recognized authorities and lecturers accredited and help establish the credential, there were dentists who were given accreditation “by lecture.” Their lectures were well known and the work they displayed was of recognized quality, so they were granted accreditation without an exam.

I have heard rumors or grumblings, if you will, that some of the very first dentists accredited in this way didn’t have work that was of good enough quality to pass the exam. I have no direct knowledge of that happening with any dentist nor have I seen work from an accredited cosmetic dentist that looked substandard. Nor am I aware of any attempt to gloss over the early history of accreditation. But I do know that once the examination process got established, there were measures taken to tighten up the process and there was much grumbling that the exam was too hard. The failure rate was about 2/3 for a while, and those in charge of accreditation would not budge as far as making it easier. Instead, their answer was to bolster the education and preparation process, and to add mentors to help to bring the dentists up to a certain level of excellence. I know from going through the accreditation process even in the early days (I was among the first 40 dentists to become accredited, having started the accreditation process only one year after the path to accreditation was announced) that it was very demanding. I felt as though I had done a masters thesis. It required a great deal of focus, self-criticism, and re-doing of cases before I felt that I had cases that would meet the approval of the committee. And even then I had one case I thought was good enough, but I had used a material that didn’t take a polish well. This wasn’t good enough for them, and I had to resurface it with another material and polish it to a perfect sheen in order to bring it up to their standards. The questioning was tough, and there were dentists who did quite nice work who failed.

– Dr. Hall

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About David A. Hall

Dr. David Hall was one of the first 40 accredited cosmetic dentists in the world. He practiced cosmetic dentistry in Iowa, and in 1990 earned his accreditation with the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. He is now president of Infinity Dental Web, a company in Mesa, Arizona that does complete Internet marketing for dentists.

March 18, 2010

How do I become a cosmetic dentist?

Filed under: Becoming a Cosmetic Dentist — mesasmiles @ 6:52 am

Hello Dr. Hall,

My name is Ashleigh and I’m currently an undergrad and pre-med/dental student at the University of New Mexico. My mother is a dental hygienist so I’ve grown up around the biz and I’d love to train for cosmetic dentistry. I’m primarily an artist and greatly value aesthetics and form, so I feel this was a wonderful direction in which to switch gears. I’ve got a ways to go before dental school, but I’d like to know exactly what special training (and possibly where to get it) I would need on top of finishing dental school to become a cosmetic dentist? Thank you for your time. All the best, Ashleigh

Ashleigh,
From my experience and from asking other cosmetic dentists this same question, most of us feel it takes about five years after dental school, attending continuing education courses and trying to practice the things you learn, to really feel competent in cosmetic dentistry.

And I believe the best way to learn cosmetic dentistry is to join the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry and faithfully go to their annual meetings every year. They have excellent lecturers and hands-on training that are designed for dentists to start learning the basics of cosmetic dentistry and gradually become masters at it. There are other postgraduate programs in cosmetic dentistry, such as at Baylor University in Texas, and other places, too.

And, of course, as I preach throughout this website, a cosmetic dentist needs to be fundamentally artistic, which goes against the grain of the great majority of dentists. So you’ve got a good start in that direction.

Dr. Hall

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About David A. Hall

Dr. David Hall was one of the first 40 accredited cosmetic dentists in the world. He practiced cosmetic dentistry in Iowa, and in 1990 earned his accreditation with the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. He is now president of Infinity Dental Web, a company in Mesa, Arizona that does complete Internet marketing for dentists.

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