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About ADA

What do you think of when you hear the words American Dental Association? Going to the dentist? Buying toothpaste? Three out of four dentists?

The American Dental Association is so much more.

For starters, did you know that the ADA is the oldest and largest dental society in the world? It’s true. The first meeting of the ADA took place on Aug. 3, 1859—two years before the start of the Civil War and only 83 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. And since that day, the ADA has expanded to include more than 156,000 dentists from every state and Puerto Rico and increased its outreach to impact not just those who care for teeth, but also the patients and their families.

Personal oral health has changed drastically since the ADA’s founding—a time when most people lost all their teeth by age 40. Our country was once plagued by bad teeth; in fact, our first president, George Washington, was famous for his dentures made from carved ivory. By the mid-19th century, tooth powder and paste (stored in a jar) were the standard tools used for at-home teeth cleaning. Prepared by individual dentists, they were messy and easily contaminated.


The ADA’s Seal of Acceptance was created in 1931 to protect consumers from false advertising and unsafe products, including tooth powders made of chalk and a “remedy” for gum disease that contained enough sulfuric acid to act as a drain opener. The modern-day toothpaste tube was first introduced in the 1890s as Crème Dentifrice. Today, with our access to modern dentistry and pick of personal oral hygiene products such as toothbrushes, toothpaste and dental floss, we’ve come a long way. When you go shopping for oral care products, you often see the ADA Seal on packaging for toothpastes and toothbrushes. That’s your assurance that the product you are buying has been thoroughly evaluated for safety and effectiveness. Most important: the product lives up to its promises.

Did you know that for more than 150 years, the ADA has provided the public with information on the importance and benefits of regular oral health care? We’ve done that by using brochures, radio commercials and now with this website, As the leading advocate for oral health, we hope you’ll visit here whenever you have questions about your  dental and overall health needs.