The American College of Dentists (ACD) is the oldest major honorary organization for dentists
Standards of Ethical Conduct
The dental profession has long subscribed to a body of ethical statements developed primarily for the benefit of the patient. As a member of the profession, a Fellow must recognize responsibility not only to patients but also to society, to other health professionals and to self. The following are not laws but standards of conduct which define the essentials of honorable behavior for a Fellow in the American College of Dentists.
A Fellow shall be dedicated to providing competent oral health service with compassion and respect for human dignity.
Fellow shall be honest with patients and colleagues and appropriately report those who are deemed to be incompetent or engaged in fraud or deception.
A Fellow shall respect the rights of patients, colleagues, other health professionals, and society.
A Fellow shall continue to study, apply, and seek truth in the advancement of scientific knowledge and to make relevant information available to patients, colleagues, and society.
A Fellow shall responsibly participate in activities contributing to an improved community, profession, and society.
A Fellow shall act in a fair, just, and equitable manner.
A Fellow shall possess personal and professional integrity and act as a trustworthy and responsible citizen.
The core values represent a guide for ethical behavior for Fellows of the ACD and are the foundation from which the principles are derived. The core values collectively reflect the character, charter, and mission of the ACD. The ACD identifies the following as core values (in alphabetical order):
Patients have the right to determine what should be done with their own bodies. Because patients are moral entities they are capable of autonomous decision-making. Respect for patient autonomy affirms this dynamic in the doctor-patient relationship and forms the foundation for informed consent, for protecting patient confidentiality, and for upholding veracity. The patient's right to self-determination is not, however, absolute. The dentist must also weigh benefits and harms and inform the patient of contemporary standards of oral health care.
Beneficence, often cited as a fundamental principle of ethics, is the obligation to benefit others or to seek their good. While balancing harms and benefits, the dentist seeks to minimize harms and maximize benefits for the patient. The dentist refrains from harming the patient by referring to those with specialized expertise when the dentist's own skills are insufficient.
Compassion requires caring and the ability to identify with the patient's overall well-being. Relieving pain and suffering is a common attribute of dental practice. Acts of kindness and a sympathetic ear for the patient are all qualities of a caring, compassionate dentist.
The competent dentist is able to diagnose and treat the patient's oral health needs and to refer when it is in the patient's best interest. Maintaining competence requires continual self-assessment about the outcome of patient care and involves a commitment to lifelong learning. Competence is the just expectation of the patient.
Integrity requires the dentist to behave with honor and decency. The dentist who practices with a sense of integrity affirms the core values and recognizes when words, actions or intentions are in conflict with one's values and conscience. Professional integrity commits the dentist to upholding the professions' Codes of Ethics and to safeguarding, influencing and promoting the highest professional standards.
Justice is often associated with fairness or giving to each his or her own due. Issues of fairness are pervasive in dental practice and range from elemental procedural issues such as who shall receive treatment first, to complex questions of who shall receive treatment at all. The just dentist must be aware of these complexities when balancing the distribution of benefits and burdens in practice.
Self-governance is a hallmark of a profession and dentistry will thrive as long as its members are committed to actively support and promote the profession and its service to the public. The commitment to promoting oral health initiatives and protecting the public requires that the profession work together for the collective best interest of society.
Dentists are challenged to practice within an increasingly complex cultural and ethnically diverse community. Conventional attitudes regarding pain, appropriate function, and esthetics may be confounded by these differences. Tolerance to diversity requires dentists to recognize that these differences exist and challenges dentists to understand how these differences may affect patient choices and treatment.
Veracity, often known as honesty or truth telling, is the bedrock of a trusting doctor-patient relationship. The dentist relies on the honesty of the patient to gather the facts necessary to form a proper diagnosis. The patient relies on the dentist to be truthful so that truly informed decision-making can occur. Honesty in dealing with the public, colleagues and self are equally important.
Aspirational Statements of the Core Values
The central aspiration of the American College of Dentists is that all members practice their profession in an ethical manner. The American College of Dentists identifies the following as aspirational statements of the core values (in alphabetical order):
A Fellow of the ACD recognizes the dignity and intrinsic worth of individuals and their right to make personal choices.
A Fellow of the ACD acts in the best interests of patients and society even when there is conflict with the dentist's personal self-interest.
A Fellow of the ACD is sensitive to, and empathizes with, individual and societal needs for comfort and help.
A Fellow of the ACD strives to achieve the highest level of knowledge, skill, and ability within his or her capacity.
A Fellow of the ACD incorporates the core values as the basis for ethical practice and the foundation for honorable character.
A Fellow of the ACD treats all individuals and groups in a fair and equitable manner and promotes justice in society.
A Fellow of the ACD is committed to involvement in professional endeavors that enhance knowledge, skill, judgment, and intellectual development for the benefit of society.
A Fellow of the ACD respects the rights of individuals to hold disparate views in ethics discourse and dialogue and recognizes these views may arise from diverse personal, ethnic, or cultural norms.
A Fellow of the ACD values truthfulness as the basis for trust in personal and professional relationships.
Code of Conduct
Section 1. The Code of Conduct speaks very clearly about what is required of a Fellow of the American College of Dentists:
A Fellow shall abide by the principles of ethics of the American Dental Association or equivalent professional organization. A Fellow shall always act in a manner that brings credit to the dental profession and the American College of Dentists.
Fellows shall be removed of Fellowship upon being judged in violation of the Principles of Ethics of the American Dental Association or equivalent professional organization by the governing body of that organization.
The American College of Dentists holds that: The solicitation of patronage by false, deceptive, and misleading advertising is unacceptable and shall be grounds for removal of Fellowship or other disciplinary action (see Guidelines for Advertising by Dentists).
The American College of Dentists holds that it is the obligation of every Fellow to be a competent professional committed to lifelong learning. It is the responsibility of every Fellow to keep abreast of contemporary developments within the profession. It is a moral and ethical imperative that a professional responsible for the health and well-being of others discharge that responsibility to the best of their ability.
Fellows share an obligation to serve their profession and contribute to its progress according to their abilities and resources. These efforts may be acknowledged by honoraria.
Fellows have an obligation when involved in continuing education or other professional endeavors to disclose relationships with commerce, journalism, or any other entity where nondisclosure or incomplete disclosure may lead to a misrepresentation of facts.
Fellows shall be removed of Fellowship if convicted in civil or criminal court of an action which discredits the dental profession or the American College of Dentists, or following revocation of license by a licensing agency. Fellows may be removed of Fellowship following censure or suspension by organized dentistry or a licensing agency.
Fellows shall be removed of Fellowship when they do not fulfill those obligations of Fellowship as set forth in the Bylaws, Code of Conduct, or henceforth determined by the Board of Regents.
Fellows may use the title "Fellow, American College of Dentists," or alternatively "Fellow of the American College of Dentists," on letterhead, business cards, and in biographical summaries, provided this is done in a dignified and professional manner and is consistent with other provisions in the Code of Conduct. The title shall not be used in the direct solicitation of patients or for strictly commercial purposes. Use of Fellow, American College of Dentists or Fellow of the American College of Dentists on the Internet is permitted only in a biographical summary on a dentist's own website. If the title is used, it must appear on a page within the website that is strictly informational and not commercial in nature.
The title "Fellow, American College of Dentists" is conferred on all members of the College and is abbreviated F.A.C.D. It is understood that Fellowship is an honor, but it is not a degree. The conferring of Fellowship in the College may be announced to the public in accord with guidance provided by the Executive Director.
Fellows shall use the F.A.C.D. abbreviation in the accepted manner. The use of the F.A.C.D. abbreviation following the professional degree is limited as follows:
The abbreviation may be used together with academic or professional degrees on the Title Page of textbooks.
The abbreviation may be used in College registers where faculty listings are presented, together with other titles and degrees.
When submitting a paper for publication in a professional, non-proprietary journal, a Fellow may inform the editorial board of Fellowship in the College and at the editor's discretion, the abbreviation may be used following the author's name.
The abbreviation may be considered for use in non-commercial contexts that only involve dentists or other professional colleagues and do not involve patients. The overriding principle is that the abbreviation shall not be used in any commercial context such as advertising, solicitation of patients, or personal or professional promotion. This restriction will normally exclude the use of the abbreviation on stationery or professional cards. The abbreviation should not be used in or on office doors, office buildings, nameplates, signs, directories, announcements, appointment cards, advertisements, telephone books, or websites.
The abbreviation may be used in educational settings where the course, seminar, or meeting is sponsored by conventional dental schools, organized dentistry, or organizations representing recognized specialties.
Any contemplated use of the abbreviation shall comply with the spirit of the Principles of Ethics and Code of Professional Conduct of the American Dental Association.
The abbreviation should not be used when signing a professional register except in foreign countries where such recognition is expected.
Sections may only use the seal of the American College of Dentists as part of official correspondence. Any other contemplated uses require the prior approval of the Executive Director. The seal may not be used by individuals other than those serving in an official capacity.
Pledge for Acceptance of Fellowship and affirmation of the Responsibilities of Fellowship will be required of all new Fellows.
Section 2. The Code of Conduct also speaks very clearly about what is required of an Affiliate Member of the American College of Dentists:
An Affiliate Member shall always act in a manner that brings credit to the dental profession and the American College of Dentists.
Affiliate Members shall not portray themselves as Fellows of the American College of Dentists.
The American College of Dentists holds that it is the obligation of every Affiliate Member to be competent and committed to lifelong learning. It is the responsibility of every Affiliate Member to keep abreast of contemporary developments relative to their profession.
Affiliate Members are encouraged to serve the dental profession and contribute to its progress according to their abilities and resources. These efforts may be acknowledged by honoraria.
Affiliate Members have an obligation when involved in continuing education or other professional endeavors to disclose relationships with commerce, journalism, or any other entity where nondisclosure or incomplete disclosure may lead to a misrepresentation of facts.
Affiliate Members shall be removed of membership if convicted in civil or criminal court of an action which discredits the dental profession or the American College of Dentists, or following revocation of license or similar credential by a regulatory agency. Affiliate Members may be removed of membership following censure or suspension by a professional organization or a regulatory agency.
Affiliate Members shall be removed of membership when they do not fulfill those obligations of membership as set forth in the Bylaws, Code of Conduct, or henceforth determined by the Board of Regents. Affiliate Members may be removed of membership if their actions discredit the dental profession or the American College of Dentists.
Acceptance of Section 2 of the Code of Conduct will be required of all Affiliate Members.
The preceding statements constitute the Code of Conduct of the American College of Dentists. The purpose of the Code of Conduct is to uphold and strengthen dentistry as a member of the learned professions.
The Code of Conduct was amended October 1996, October 1999, April 2004, October 2005, October 2007, and October 2010.