Join ADAMember Log In




ADA Advertising Standards

The ADA welcomes advertising in its publications as an important means of keeping the dentist informed of new and better products and services for the practice of dentistry. Such advertising must be factual, dignified, tasteful and intended to provide useful product and service information. These standards apply to all product-specific promotional material submitted to ADA programs.

The publication of an advertisement is not to be construed as an endorsement or approval by the ADA or any of its subsidiaries, councils, commissions or agencies of the product or service being offered in the advertisement unless the advertisement specifically includes an authorized statement that such approval or endorsement has been granted. The fact that an advertisement for a product, service or company has appeared in an ADA publication will not be referred to in collateral advertising.

The ADA reserves the right to accept or reject advertising at its sole discretion for any product or service submitted for publication.

  • General Requirements
  • Criteria for Substantiation of Comparative Claims

General Requirements

  1. All advertisements submitted for display in an ADA publication are subject to review.
  2. Products that are in an ADA Seal program must also satisfy all requirements of the Council on Scientific Affairs, in addition to these standards governing eligibility for advertising in ADA publications. Further information on the evaluation programs of the Council on Scientific Affairs is available by contacting the council office at 312.440.2734.
  3.  Advertisements must not be deceptive or misleading. All claims of fact must be fully supported and meaningful in terms of performance or any other benefit. The Association reserves the right to request additional information as needed.
  4.  Advertisements will not be accepted if they conflict with or appear to violate ADA policy, the ADA Principles of Ethics and Code of Professional Conduct or its Constitution and Bylaws, or if the advertisements are deemed offensive in either text or artwork, or contain attacks of a personal, racial or religious nature. The ADA reserves the right to decline advertising for any product involved with a government agency challenge or denial of product marketing, and for any technique or product that is the subject of an unfavorable or cautionary report by an agency of the ADA.
  5. By submitting advertising copy, advertisers certify that such copy and the advertised product(s) are in accord with applicable government laws and regulations such as equal opportunity laws and regulations covering new drug applications and prescription drug advertising. For example, products that require approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for marketing must receive this approval before being eligible and must include “full disclosure” when required. It is the responsibility of the advertiser to conform to regulations of the FDA and all legal requirements for the content of claims made for products. Acceptance of advertising in ADA publications is not to be construed as a guarantee that the manufacturer has complied with such laws and regulations.
  6. Complete scientific and technical data, whether published or unpublished, concerning product safety, operation and usefulness will be required.
  7. The advertisement may cite, in footnotes, references from dental and other scientific literature provided the reference is truthful and is a fair and accurate representation of the body of literature supporting the claim made.
  8. Comparative advertising claims for competing products and services must be substantiated adequately. Companies wanting to make comparative claims must comply with the ADA Criteria for Substantiation of Comparative Claims. Unwarranted disparagements or unfair comparisons of a competitor’s products or services will not be allowed.
  9. Display advertising with respect to employment, purchase of practice, participation or any other contractual relationship with any dental care delivery mode or system may be accepted for publication. Such opportunities may also be advertised in the classified section of ADA publications without any illustrations or graphics.
  10. Alcoholic beverages and tobacco products are not eligible for advertising.
  11. Books and electronic media are eligible for advertising but a sample may be required in advance for review.
  12. An advertisement for an educational course is eligible if it is offered by a provider that is recognized by the ADA Continuing Education Recognition Program (ADA CERP) or conducted under the auspices of the following organizations: an ADA constituent or component dental society, an ADA-recognized dental specialty certifying board or sponsoring organization; an accredited dental or medical school; or any organization specifically referred to in the Bylaws of the ADA; and educational courses offered by providers recognized by the Academy of General Dentistry Program Approval for Continuing Education (AGD PACE). The eligibility of an advertisement for a course conducted by or under the auspices of an organization or commercial entity other than the aforementioned will be determined on a case-by-case basis.
  13. The advertiser and the product or service being offered should be clearly identified in the advertisement. In the case of drug advertisements, the full generic name of each active ingredient will appear.
  14. Advertising that simulates editorial content must be clearly identified as advertising. The word “advertisement” must be displayed prominently.
  15. Guarantees may be used in advertisements provided the statements that are “guaranteed” are truthful and can be substantiated. However, no guarantee should be used without disclosing its conditions and limitations. When space or time restrictions preclude such disclosures, the advertisement must clearly reveal where the full text of the guarantee can be examined before purchase.
  16. Advertisements must not quote the names, statements or writings of any individual, public official, government agency, testing group or other organization without their express written consent. Guidelines for the use of testimonials are available upon request.

For questions regarding the ADA Advertising Standards, please contact Ms. Carol Krause in the Publishing Division at 312.440.2783 or by e-mail.

Return to Top

Criteria for Substantiation of Comparative Claims

The following Criteria for Substantiation of Comparative Claims provide guidance to advertisers on what constitutes “adequate substantiation.” The ultimate test is whether the claim, when viewed in the context of the advertisement as a whole, is false or materially misleading.

Comparative advertisements may include the use of a competitor’s name and the description of a comparable product or service, including price, if the comparison is made in a manner that is not false or misleading. Companies can utilize the type of outcome analyses contained in the ADA Guidelines for Determination of Efficacy in Product Development (May 1998), but can also use other types of analyses that are acceptable to the ADA to support comparative claims.

  1. Comparative claims relating to clinical safety or efficacy (e.g., caries reduction, gingivitis reduction, soft tissue irritation, etc), should be supported by results from at least one well-designed clinical study that directly compares the products. Additional studies may be required.
  2. Comparative claims relating to attributes that imply clinical efficacy (e.g., increased fluoride uptake, increased compressive strength, increased retention of a plaque germ-killing ingredient, etc) should be supported by results from at least one well-designed in-vitro study that directly compares the products. Additional studies may be required. The claims should be footnoted with the statement, “Clinical benefit has not been established.”
  3. Clinical studies should follow accepted principles of good study design (e.g., independent, blinded if appropriate, adequately powered, well-controlled [should normally include a negative control, if ethical, to validate the study], randomized, prospective, etc), and study subjects should be representative of the population for whom the product is intended.
  4. Indices used to measure various clinical outcomes (e.g., gingival indices, plaque indices, etc) should be reliable and reproducible, and should have been published in a peer-reviewed journal.
  5. All available studies comparing the products or formulations in question should be submitted on request.
  6. If other comparative studies give conflicting results, advertising claims will not be accepted unless they reflect these results.
  7. Results should be both statistically analyzed and shown to be clinically meaningful.
  8. Studies should analyze and compare the change in the measured parameter for the test product vs. the change in that parameter for the compared product.

Return to Top