The benefits of joining AACD

Jan. 1, 2004
The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD) recently exhibited at the American Dental Association's annual meeting in San Francisco.

By James Hastings, DDS

The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD) recently exhibited at the American Dental Association's annual meeting in San Francisco. I had the privilege of standing in the AACD exhibit booth for a few hours to answer questions from dental professionals who happened to come by. I found the experience both enjoyable and enlightening. How could standing on my feet for two hours be fun? Because I love the AACD, and I enjoy being there to create value for dentists and technicians, to share information, to promote new membership, and to get others excited about the AACD — just as I am.

As a result, we had 29 doctors join the AACD. Many joined because of the awesome educational opportunities the academy offers. The Annual Scientific Session provides members the best opportunities for continuing education supporting our mission of advancing the art and science of cosmetic dentistry. At least one dentist wanted to be sure his staff got a trip to the AACD's next Annual Scientific Session to be held in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia, to ensure that his entire staff will be able to match his enhanced skills.

Answering questions in the exhibit booth took me back to my first AACD Annual Scientific Session in 1994. This is where I first realized the true benefits of belonging to this dynamic group.

The educational part of the program that year had an adhesion symposium, where for eight hours you could see eight speakers, one after another, present new information and techniques for everyday dentistry. I don't remember seeing one porcelain veneer that day, but wow, did I learn! In just one day, I saw 1994's latest techniques in placing posterior composite and indirect restorations, and I learned the science behind adhesive dentistry.

That evening by the swimming pool, there was a wonderful get-together. I made many new friends and rubbed shoulders with many "superstar" clinicians. The following day in the exhibit hall, I learned a technique for rapid and predictable impression-taking that I still use today. I learned the technique simply by chatting with a colleague — whom I had never met — while looking over a major manufacturer's recent offerings in impression materials.

I also discovered the AACD has an accreditation program for recognition of advanced skills in cosmetic dentistry. Not knowing exactly what I was getting into, I signed up to go through the accreditation process. I discovered I had two years to learn everything I could about cosmetic dentistry, and then to prove it by documenting five cases in separate disciplines. This was a huge challenge for someone who had never placed a single direct composite veneer! The journey through accreditation, while challenging, was the most important educational experience I have ever had, and I believe that my patients are the beneficiaries of my experience.

My AACD membership has been a great learning experience. The friends I've made both in the United States and internationally are friends I'll keep for life. Since then, things have grown even better in the AACD. It's four times larger than in 1994; the AACD Journal has become a well-respected, peer-reviewed publication, now known as The Journal of Cosmetic Dentistry; and the accreditation journey has become more "user-friendly." The barriers to entry for the exam have been reduced, while the time requirement for completion has been extended. For fairness, the clinical case submissions are evaluated anonymously rather than in front of a group of examiners. Now, the examination process is similar to a specialty board examination — both rigorous and fair.

Why should you become an AACD member? According to a colleague and past president of the AACD, "Cosmetic dentistry U is a prosthodontic discipline that requires comprehensive treatment planning." The creation of exquisite dentistry that is undetectable — even on close examination — is both a science and an art. It's possible to learn the fundamentals of cosmetic dentistry by studying textbooks, reading journals, and attending a seminar here and there, but it's much better to learn from the leading experts in cosmetic dentistry year 'round. The AACD makes that possible for you, your staff, and your laboratory technician. I look at the AACD as a huge study club or university without walls, whose members are willing and able to share information and ideas.

Cosmetic dentistry, which AACD president-elect Dr. Larry Addleson says "... ought to be just good restorative dentistry," is in great demand — virtually everywhere. Therefore, it makes good sense for all dentists to become experts in this discipline. And for our technician colleagues, membership also is open with a special credential that can be earned.

For dental students, the AACD has incredibly low membership dues of $20. Student memberships come with full membership benefits. Also, deeply discounted student tuition rates are available for the Annual Scientific Session.

One more reason you should join — this kind of dentistry is fun to do. Staff, patients, and doctors all enjoy the high energy that is generated by treating happy and satisfied patients. I've spoken to several doctors with many years of experience who report that since they started understanding and doing cosmetic dentistry, they are having too much fun to consider retiring. The AACD is the best place for you to continually learn and increase your knowledge of cosmetic dentistry.

So, if you're not a member, you should be! Join the AACD and make it an integral part of your career path. You won't regret your decision.

Editor's Note: This is the first of a yearlong series of articles from the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD). The AACD and Dental Equipment & Materials are working together throughout 2004 to bring you articles that will help you in your practice.

A graduate of the Indiana University School of Dentistry, Dr. James Hastings has lectured internationally and has authored several peer-reviewed articles on adhesive and esthetic dentistry. He is an accredited member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry and is currently serving his fifth year on the Board of Governors of the AACD. He practices in Sacramento, Calif., and can be reached by e-mail at [email protected]. For more information on the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, visit


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