What you need to know about dental honor societies

By Dr. Teresa Yang, DrBicuspid.com contributing writer

June 17, 2021 -- Unless you've had a mentor involved in a dental honor society, chances are you have only heard of them in passing. Or know they have something to do with the alphabet soup of letters behind a dentist's name.

Four of the most well-recognized organizations all support excellence in dentistry, but each occupies a specific niche:

  1. The Pierre Fauchard Academy focuses on leadership.
  2. The International College of Dentists emphasizes service to the profession.
  3. The American College of Dentists champions ethics in dentistry.
  4. Omicron Kappa Upsilon recognizes academic performance and potential in graduating dental students.

Maybe one of these organizations is the right fit for you.

The Pierre Fauchard Academy

The Pierre Fauchard Academy is an international honorary organization whose mission is to recognize and develop outstanding leadership in the dental profession. Membership --- referred to as fellowship -- in the academy is by nomination and based on contributions to dental literature or service to the profession and the general community.

Dr. Teresa Yang
Dr. Teresa Yang.

Minnesota dentist Dr. Elmer Best founded the academy in 1936. He named it after Dr. Pierre Fauchard, a French physician recognized as the "father of modern dentistry." Among his many contributions, Fauchard claimed that cavities were caused by sugar, introduced the dental filling as a means of treatment, and said that teeth should be cleaned occasionally by a dentist.

Best sought to help the profession gain control over its literature, assuring its independence from commercial interests. This remains an objective of the Pierre Fauchard Academy today with the publication of Dental Abstracts. Honoring Best's focus on integrity and ethics, the academy continues to emphasize professionalism, integrity, and ethics worldwide.

The International College of Dentists

In 1920, Dr. Louis Ottofy was returning home to the U.S. after practicing dentistry in the Philippines and Japan for 23 years. At his farewell party in Tokyo, he and Dr. Tsurukichi Okumura conceived the idea for the International College of Dentists (ICD). Since that time, the ICD has grown to 12,000 members -- or fellows -- spanning 122 countries.

The ICD is another honorary dental society that "recognizes outstanding professional achievement and meritorious service while advocating for humanitarian and educational initiatives." All members adhere to their universal motto: "recognizing service and the opportunity to serve."

Membership is also by nomination. Once candidates pass the peer-review process and become a fellow, they can add FICD behind their names.

The American College of Dentists

The oldest honorary organization for dentists in the U.S., the American College of Dentists (ACD), was founded in 1920 in Boston by the leaders of the precursor to the ADA. The founders intended the ACD to "elevate the standards of dentistry, to encourage graduate study, and to grant Fellowship to those who have done meritorious work."

Since its inception, the ACD has come to epitomize ethics and professionalism in dentistry and is commonly recognized as the "conscience of dentistry." With more than 7,000 fellows, ACD members represent approximately 3.5% of the total dentists in the U.S.

Membership in ACD is by invitation and selection is based on exceptional contributions to organized dentistry, oral healthcare, dental research, dental education, and the profession and society. Fellows get to put FACD behind their names.

Omicron Kappa Upsilon

Omicron Kappa Upsilon (OKU) is a national dental honor society and the dentistry equivalent of the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa society. Founded in 1914 at Northwestern Dental School, OKU now comprises 63 chapters, representing dental schools throughout the U.S. and Canada. The Greek letters omicron and upsilon were chosen because they roughly translate into the words "teeth" and "health."

Each year the top 12% of a dental school class qualifies for induction into OKU. In addition to academic achievement, candidates must also demonstrate exemplary traits of character and potential for future professional growth and attainments. A smaller number of faculty and honorary members are also chosen.

Dr. Teresa Yang started two practices from scratch and sold them both. She currently serves as a trustee at the California Dental Association (CDA) and is a member of the CDA Foundation Board. She is also the editor of WestViews at the Western Los Angeles Dental Society. Her general interest articles have been published in online literary journals and on humor sites. She can be reached at yangter@gmail.com.

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of DrBicuspid.com, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.


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