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Scope of Practice

At Issue

In 1997 the ADA House of Delegates, in response to numerous requests, adopted as policy a model definition of dentistry that defines it as: The evaluation, diagnosis, prevention and/or treatment (nonsurgical, surgical or related procedures) of diseases, disorders and/or conditions of the oral cavity, maxillofacial area and/or the adjacent and associated structures and their impact on the human body; provided by a dentist, within the scope of his/her education, training and experience, in accordance with the ethics of the profession and applicable law.

Consistent with the view of dentistry being both a science and an art, an underlying theme of the ADA definition of dentistry is the understanding that dentistry is an evolving profession. As the profession evolves, so will the complexity and scope of procedures dentists perform.

Through the evolving nature of dentistry and advances in research, education and training, the dental profession has continually improved the manner in which dental services are rendered to a point where such services are provided more effectively and efficiently than ever before.

Part of dentistry’s success can be attributed to the development and continued growth of its allied dental team members—dental hygienists, dental assistants and dental lab technologists. Over time the members of this team have been educated and trained within their defined roles to aid dentists and contribute to the provision of comprehensive care to patients through the dental team approach. With the assurance that the dental team is lead by a licensed dentist, an increased capacity to provide dental care will continue to be realized.

ADA Priorities

  • The American Dental Association encourages states’ adoption of the ADA’s Definition of Dentistry: The evaluation, diagnosis, prevention and/or treatment (nonsurgical, surgical or related procedures) of diseases, disorders and/or conditions of the oral cavity, maxillofacial area and/or the adjacent and associated structures and their impact on the human body; provided by a dentist, within the scope of his/her education, training and experience, in accordance with the ethics of the profession and applicable law.
    Adopted: ADA Resolution 1997

Additional Resources

Contact Us

For additional information, please contact:

  • Jon Holtzee, Director of State Government Affairs
  • Dan Creed, Manager, State Legislation & Regulation, State Government Affairs

Federal Affairs
1111 14th Street NW, Suite 1100
Washington, DC 20005
202.898.2400
Fax: 202.898.2437
Email: govtpol@ada.org 
  State Government Affairs
ADA Chicago Headquarters
211 East Chicago Avenue
Chicago, IL 60611
312.440.2525
Fax: 312.440.3539
Email: govtpol@ada.org