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International College of Dentists celebrates 100 years

Dental organization has more than 12,000 fellows in 122 countries after founding in 1920

December 12, 2019

By David Burger


International fellowship: International College of Dentists leaders join with the first fellows from the Dominican Republic, among other nations‘ new fellows following the ICD’s international induction ceremony during November’s Greater New York Dental Meeting. Dr. Chad P. Gehani, ADA president, is fourth from the right, along with ICD executive committee members Dr. John Hinterman, on the far right, and Dr. S. Dov Sydney, sixth from the left.

Nagoya, Japan — When Drs. Louis Ottofy and Tsurukichi Okumura first came up with the idea to create the International College of Dentists in 1920, likely they never imagined that the inaugural number of 250 fellows would swell to more than 12,000 fellows in 122 countries.

The ICD will celebrate those numbers in 2020 in 100th anniversary celebrations throughout the world and throughout the year, culminating at the 2020 meeting of the International Council in Nagoya, Japan, in November with an international induction ceremony, gala banquet and other commemorative events.

"I am so excited to have this special opportunity to serve all fellows of our global 100-year-old organization as international president,” said Japan’s Dr. Akira Senda, ICD international president. “I believe that we are very fortunate to have the valuable and rare opportunity to participate in a historic celebration to honor the first 100 years of the International College of Dentists.”

The idea for the International College of Dentists was conceived in Japan in 1920 at a farewell party for Dr. Ottofy, a Hungarian dentist living and having been educated in the U.S., said Dr. S. Dov Sydney, ICD international editor and director of global communications as well as general chair of the worldwide centennial committee.

Dr. Ottofy left the United States to practice dentistry in the Philippines and Japan for 23 years. When he was returning to the U.S., his Japanese colleague, Dr. Okumura, urged Dr. Ottofy to form an international organization of outstanding dentists to create and maintain professional collegiality and friendships, monitor and evaluate the progress of dentistry internationally and disseminate such information to dental colleagues in all countries of the world, Dr. Sydney said.

Some years later in Philadelphia, a group of dentists met to finalize the concept of the ICD, and in 1928 the college was incorporated and established, with Drs. Ottofy and Okumura serving as the co-founders. The first board of governors came from Australia, Austria, Canada, China, Cuba, England, France, Germany, Japan, India, Italy, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Uruguay and the U.S.

 ICD Centennial
Each fellow was given the task of nominating other dentists for membership based on the following instructions: "Please nominate the ablest, most progressive, best educated, ethical practitioner in your country, regardless of his place of domicile, nationality, race, color or religion."

Fellowship in the college, which is headquartered in Flint, Michigan, is extended by invitation only. A nominated dentist must pass a rigorous, peer-review process leading to the recognition of the individual’s “outstanding professional achievement, meritorious service and dedication to the continued progress of dentistry for the benefit of humankind.”

Dr. Sydney said that the ICD has continued to sustain its commitment to excellence in recent years. The college has experienced 5% membership growth around the world in the past decade and has expanded its reach into 122 countries. ICD is currently involved in more than 250 humanitarian, educational, leadership and public health initiatives worldwide, and in the last six years the college has donated more than $115,000 of dental and medical supplies toward oral health projects for underserved populations through the ICD Global Visionary Fund and the Henry Schein Cares Grant Program.

“While our organization is focused on improving access and quality of oral health, we are also a professional society of shared interests and values, so there is also the meaningful fellowship and camaraderie aspect,” Dr. Sydney. “This is a unique group in which there is the absence of an atmosphere of competition and the need to show how successful one is or how many papers one has published. The ICD promotes a collaborative, sharing relationship guided by the universal principle that all members are equals regardless of their national origin, culture or language.”

While U.S. fellows might not be able to travel to Nagoya to participate in the centennial celebration, they can join in the fun during the ADA FDC Annual Meeting in Orlando in October. The U.S.A. section will hold their annual meeting, fellowship orientation program and convocation at the Waldorf Astoria Orlando Hotel in the Bonnet Creek area. Plans are underway for the centennial celebration dinner in one of the Disney World theme parks on Oct. 16, and there will also be a centennial golf tournament at the Lake Buena Vista Golf Course on Oct. 17.

Dr. Sydney looks forward to the future after retelling the first 100 years.

“The fact that we grew from a concept first established by a Japanese dentist and an American dentist 100 years ago endeavoring to have an international organization to today, with the largest footprint of any dental honor society in the world, says a great deal,” Dr. Sydney said.

To learn more about centennial events in the U.S. and Japan, visit