Did you know that the Association’s Code of Ethics is 150 years old this year?
Chances are, the people of Wisconsin do.
That’s because members of the Wisconsin Dental Association took to the airwaves in March telling local news viewers about the Code — formally called the ADA Principles of Ethics and Code of Professional Conduct.
It’s part of a larger-scale effort by the WDA, based in West Allis, to educate viewers about what to expect from dentists who adhere to the Code. The Code is also the cover story and focus of the organization’s March/April issue of the WDAJ, the WDA’s journal.
"This year we are celebrating the 150th year of the [Code],” said Dr. Marty Williams, a Wisconsin dentist and chair of the WDA’s ethics and dental relations committee, in an appearance on Green Bay’s CBS affiliate.
“It’s important that all the members of the Dental Association … and the Wisconsin Dental Association voluntarily pledge to enforce these principles to make sure we build a trusting relationship with our patients.”
“We’re very proud of [the Code],” said Dr. Tom Raimann, a Wisconsin dentist and member of the ADA’s Council on Ethics, Bylaws and Judicial Affairs, in an appearance on Milwaukee’s FOX affiliate. “We’ve had 150 years of the Code.”
After outlining the tenets of the Code, Dr. Raimann explained during his four-minute interview that the Code has evolved over its lifetime. “As times have changed, we’ve had to interpret the principles based on the Code,” he said. “For example, with advertising and what is allowable. Advertising, at one point, was not allowed in the Code of Ethics, but because of changes in our society and laws and things, we’ve had to revisit that. The important thing is to make sure that advertising and advertisements are truthful.”
The WDA’s month of March was devoted to celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Code, and was part of the dental organization’s Own Your Smile oral health literacy and public awareness campaign, which has resulted in three dozen TV appearances since January 2014.
It seems to have paid off; there has been a 1,200 percent increase in searches for WDA dentists in the national Find A Dentist online directory on MouthHealthy.org since that time, said Dr. Patricia McConnell, an Appleton dentist and chair of the WDA’s public relations committee. “For a long time, dentists have kept ethics important,” she said. “We want the public to know that by having an ADA and WDA dentist that you’re getting a person with high ethical standards. And we are reaching people. It’s making an impact.”
The WDA is not the only organization celebrating the anniversary. The ADA will, too, with plans to make a big splash at ADA 2016 – America’s Dental Meeting, said Tom Elliott, deputy general counsel and director of the Council on Ethics, Bylaws and Judicial Affairs. Among the offerings are a booth, a large display, a commemorative edition of the Code and a planned continuing education course devoted to ethics, he said.
Mr. Elliott talked about the significance of the Code. “It is one of the fundamental things that transformed dentistry from a trade, in the middle of the 19th century, to a profession,” he said. “It shows that dentists really put the welfare of the patients first, a commitment that continues today.”
Mr. Elliott was heartened that state dental organizations were publicizing the Code’s importance. “The more people that beat the drum, the better,” he said.
Dr. McConnell said that she applauded the “tight-knit” relationship between the ADA and WDA during this anniversary year, which included the WDA promoting the ADA’s consumer website MouthHealthy.org
website during the TV appearances.
To view Dr. Raimann and Dr. Williams’ TV appearances, go to the WDA’s YouTube.com
To learn more about the Code and to read its contents, go to ADA.org
and search for “Code of Ethics.”