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ADA CERP Glossary

The following terms are defined as they are used by the Commission for Continuing Education Provider Recognition in relation to continuing dental education.

ACTIVITY:  An individual educational experience such as a lecture, clinic or home-study package. (See COURSE, LIVE COURSES/ACTIVITIES, ELECTRONICALLY MEDIATED LEARNING, SELF-INSTRUCTIONAL COURSES/ACTIVITIES)

ADMINISTRATIVE AUTHORITY: (previously noted as administrator or program planner):  The person responsible for the coordination, organization and dissemination of planned CDE offerings.  Typically, it is an employee of the provider; the provider is responsible for the overall quality.

ADVISORY COMMITTEE:  An objective entity that provides peer review and direction for the program and the provider.  A majority of the advisory committee must be dentists who are independent from other responsibilities for the provider.  The advisory committee should include objective representatives of the intended audience, including the members of the dental team for which the courses are offered.

BEST PRACTICES: Those strategies, methods, activities or approaches which have been shown through research and evaluation to effectively promote continuous quality improvement of continuing dental education in accordance with the ADA CERP Recognition Standards and Procedures.

COMMERCIAL BIAS/COMMERCIAL INFLUENCE: In the context of continuing dental education, any activity or material designed to promote a specific proprietary business interest.

COMMERCIAL INTEREST: (1) An individual or entity that produces, markets, re-sells or distributes health care goods or services consumed by, or used on, patients, or (2) an individual or entity that is owned or controlled by an individual or entity that produces, markets, resells, or distributes health care goods or services consumed by, or used on, patients. Providing clinical services directly to or for patients (e.g., a dental practice, dental lab, or diagnostic lab) does not, by itself, make an individual or entity a commercial interest.

COMMERCIAL SUPPORT:  Financial support, products and other resources contributed to support or offset expenses or needs associated with a provider’s continuing dental education activity.

COMMERCIAL SUPPORTER:  Entities which contribute unrestricted financial support, products, and other resources to support or offset expenses and/or needs associated with a provider’s continuing dental education activity.

CONFLICT OF INTEREST: When an individual has an opportunity to affect the content of continuing dental education activities regarding products or services of a commercial interest with which he/she has a financial relationship.

CONTINUING DENTAL EDUCATION:* Continuing dental education consists of educational activities designed to review existing concepts and techniques, to convey information beyond the basic dental education and to update knowledge on advances in scientific, clinical, and non-clinical practice related subject matter, including evidence-based dentistry. The objective is to improve the knowledge, skills and ability of the individual to provide the highest quality of service to the public and the profession. All continuing dental education should strengthen the habits of critical inquiry and balanced judgment that denote the truly professional and scientific person and should make it possible for new knowledge to be incorporated into the practice of dentistry as it becomes available.

Continuing education programs are designed for part-time enrollment and are usually of short duration, although longer programs with structured, sequential curricula may also be included within this definition. In contrast to accredited advanced dental education programs, continuing dental education programs do not lead to eligibility for ethical announcements or certification in a specialty recognized by the American Dental Association. Continuing dental education should be a part of a lifelong continuum of learning.

In order for specific course subject material to be acceptable for credit, the stated course objectives, overall curriculum design or topical outlines should be clearly stated. The information presented should enable the dental professional to enhance the dental health of the public, either directly or through improved effectiveness of operations in dental practice, or through expansion of present knowledge through research. The dental professional should be able to apply the knowledge gained within his or her professional capacity.

*ADA Policy Statement on Continuing Dental Education, excerpt (Trans.2006:331; 2011:465)

COURSE:  A type of continuing education activity; usually implies a planned and formally conducted learning experience. (See ACTIVITY, LIVE COURSE/ACTIVITY, ELECTRONICALLY MEDIATED LEARNING, SELF-INSTRUCTIONAL COURSE/ACTIVITY)

COURSE COMPLETION CODE: Also referred to as verification code. Random code, a portion of which is announced by program provider toward the end of each course to help verify that each participant has taken part in the entire course.

DENTAL/MEDICAL EDUCATION OR COMMUNICATIONS COMPANY: Company whose sole purpose is to produce educational programs or communications for healthcare professionals.

EDUCATIONAL METHODS, METHODOLOGIES:  The systematic plan or procedure by which information or educational material is made available to the learner. Some examples include lecture, discussion, practice under supervision, audiovisual self-instructional units, case presentations and internet-based or other electronically mediated formats.

ELECTRONICALLY MEDIATED LEARNING: Continuing education activities that use one or more of the following technologies to deliver instruction to participants who are separated from the instructor and to support interaction between the participants and the instructor: (1) the internet; (2) one-way and two-way transmissions through open broadcast, closed circuit, cable, microwave, broadband lines, fiber optics, satellite, or wireless communications devices; (3) audio conferencing; or (4)  DVDs, CD–ROMs, and videocassettes if these are used in a course in conjunction with any of the other technologies listed. Electronically mediated learning may be delivered through live courses or self-instructional activities.

EVIDENCE-BASED DENTISTRY:* Evidence-based dentistry (EBD) is an approach to oral health care that requires the judicious integration of systematic assessments of clinically relevant scientific evidence, relating to the patient's oral and medical condition and history, with the dentist's clinical expertise and the patient's treatment needs and preferences. (See Center for Evidence-Based Dentistry at

* Definition of Evidence-Based Dentistry (Trans.2001:462), in ADA Policy Statement on Evidence-Based Dentistry

FINANCIAL RELATIONSHIPS: Any relationship in which an individual benefits by receiving a salary, royalty, intellectual property rights, consulting fee, honoraria, ownership interest, contracted research or other financial benefit. CCEPR considers relationships of the person involved in the CDE activity to include financial relationships of a family member. Relevant financial relationships must be disclosed to participants in CDE activities. (See RELEVANT FINANCIAL RELATIONSHIPS.)

GOAL:  A statement of long-range expectations of a continuing dental education program.

GOVERNMENTAL HEALTH AUTHORITY: A government or its designated entity responsible for health matters.

INSTRUCTOR/AUTHOR: (also lecturer, faculty, faculty member): The person or persons responsible for the development and presentation of specific CDE course material for the intended audience.

INTERNATIONAL PROVIDER: A continuing dental education provider whose primary location is outside the United States and Canada. International providers interested in participating in ADA CERP must meet the Eligibility Criteria and complete the process outlined in the Pre-application Process for International Providers (PPIP) before submitting an application for CERP recognition. (See POLICY ON PRE-APPLICATION PROCESS FOR INTERNATIONAL PROVIDERS.)

JOINT PROVIDER: A continuing education provider that shares responsibility with an ADA CERP recognized provider for planning, implementing, evaluating, and keeping records for a continuing dental education activity. Responsibility for continuing education activities must rest with the ADA CERP recognized provider whenever the provider acts in cooperation with providers that are not recognized. A commercial interest may not be a joint provider.* (See ADA CERP Recognition Standards and Procedures, Standard IX. Administration, Criteria 13-14, and Joint Providership Policy).

JOINT PROVIDERSHIP: Any continuing education activity in which an ADA CERP recognized provider agrees to provide a program jointly with another CE provider. When an ADA CERP recognized provider enters into joint providership with a non-CERP recognized provider, the CERP recognized provider must assume responsibility for the activity. When two or more ADA CERP recognized providers act in cooperation to plan and implement an activity, one must take responsibility for ensuring compliance with CERP Standards. Letters of agreement between the joint providers must be developed to outline each party’s responsibilities for the CE activity. Letters of agreement must be signed by all parties. A commercial interest may not be a joint provider.* (See ADA CERP Recognition Standards and Procedures, Standard IX. Administration, Criteria 13-14, and Joint Providership Policy).

* Effective July 1, 2023, a commercial interest may not be a joint provider.

LIVE COURSE/ACTIVITY: Continuing education courses that participants must attend (whether in person or virtually) in order to claim credit. Live courses can be offered in a variety of formats including national and local conferences, workshops, seminars, and live Internet-based conferences and teleconferences.

NEEDS ASSESSMENT:  The process of identifying the specific information or skills needed by program participants and/or interests of the program participants, based on input from participants themselves or from other relevant data sources. The specific needs thus identified provide the rationale and focus for the educational program.

OBJECTIVE:  Anticipated learner outcomes of a specific continuing dental education learning experience or instructional unit, stated in behavioral or action-oriented terms for the participant.

ON-SITE/IN-OFFICE PARTICIPATION COURSES:  Long-term CDE participation courses involving both formal course sessions and in-office practice of techniques without direct supervision.

PLANNED PROGRAM:  The total efforts of a CDE provider as they relate to continuing dental educational activities offered to professional audiences. A sequence or series of continuing education activities, courses or events that in total constitutes the provider’s activities as they relate to continuing dental educational activities offered to professional audiences.

PROFESSIONAL MEMBERSHIP ASSOCIATION: An organization of dental professionals formed for the purpose of advancing the dental profession and the oral health of the public through education and training, development and support of standards, and advocacy for the profession and the public interest.

PROGRAM PLANNING:  The total process of designing and developing continuing education activities. This process includes assessing learning needs, selecting topics, defining educational objectives, selecting instructors/authors, facilities and other educational resources, and developing evaluation mechanisms. All steps in the program planning process should be aimed at promotion of a favorable climate for adult learning.

PROVIDER:  An agency (institution, organization, or individual) responsible for organizing, administering, publicizing, presenting, and keeping records for the continuing dental education program. The CDE provider assumes both the professional and fiscal liability for the conduct and quality of the program. If the CDE provider contracts or agrees with another organization or institution to provide facilities, instructor/author or other support for the continuing education activity, the recognized provider must ensure that the facilities, instructor/author or support provided meet the standards and criteria for recognition. The CDE provider remains responsible for the overall educational quality of the continuing education activity.

RECOGNITION:  Recognition is conferred upon CDE providers which are judged to be conducting a continuing dental education program in compliance with the standards and criteria for recognition.

RECOMMENDATIONS:  Detailed suggestions and/or assistance in interpreting and implementing the standards and criteria for recognition. (See STANDARDS AND CRITERIA FOR RECOGNITION)

RELEVANT FINANCIAL RELATIONSHIPS: For a person involved in the planning, administering or presentation of a continuing dental education activity, relevant financial relationships are financial relationships in any amount, occurring in the last 12 months, that are relevant to the content of the CDE activity and that may create a conflict of interest. ADA CERP considers relevant financial relationships of the person involved in the CDE activity to include financial relationships of a family member.  Relevant financial relationships must be disclosed to participants in CDE activities. (See CONFLICT OF INTEREST and FINANCIAL RELATIONSHIPS.)

SELF-INSTRUCTIONAL COURSE/ACTIVITY: Continuing education courses in printed or recorded format, including audio, video, or online recordings that may be used over time at various locations.

SOUND SCIENTIFIC BASIS:  CDE material should have peer-reviewed content supported by generally accepted scientific principles or methods that can be substantiated or supported with peer-reviewed scientific literature that is relevant and current; or the CDE subject material is currently part of the curriculum of an accredited U.S. or Canadian dental education program and, whenever possible, employ components of evidence-based dentistry.

STANDARDS AND CRITERIA FOR RECOGNITION:  The criteria which applicant continuing dental education providers will be expected to meet in order to attain and then retain recognition status. (See RECOMMENDATIONS). The verbs used in the standards and criteria for recognition (i.e., must, should, could, may) were selected carefully and indicate the relative weight attached to each statement. Definitions of the words which were utilized in preparing the standards are:

1.    Must expresses an imperative need, duty or requirement; an essential or indispensable item; mandatory.
2.    Should expresses the recommended manner to meet the standard; highly recommended, but not mandatory.
3.    May or could expresses freedom or liberty to follow an idea or suggestion.

VERIFICATION CODE: Also referred to as course completion code. Random code, a portion of which is announced by program provider toward the end of each course to help verify that each participant has taken part in the entire course.