This week marks a milestone anniversary for the California Dental Association, commemorating 150 years of community and resilience driven by a mission to provide steadfast support for dentists in their practice.
On June 29, 1870, 23 dentists founded the California Dental Association. Today, CDA is recognized as the largest state association in the ADA with a diverse, inclusive community of more than 27,000 members and continues to uphold the vision of the founding dentists through advocacy work, philanthropic programs and education.
“CDA entered this year with excitement about celebrating this momentous anniversary with members, but instead, we faced new challenges and unprecedented changes in dentistry,” said CDA President Dr. Richard Nagy. “As our membership has done for 150 years, we faced these hardships together with passion and purpose and I am so proud of my peers, colleagues and our dental community.”
Along with investments in community and advocacy efforts on legislation and regulations, CDA has continued to innovate and drive value in core member services like member education, practice support resources and insurance, creating a solid foundation to advance dentistry into its next 150 years.
There have been many milestones along the way. Some of the most notable include:
Since its inception, CDA’s values have been rooted in contributing to the sustainability and growth of the dental profession. The organization has initiated breakthroughs in insurance with the development of The Dentists Insurance Company, founded in 1980 by a small group of CDA members who had a mission to protect dentists and their practices. 40 years later, TDIC now represents 24,000 dentists — helping each policyholder find the coverage that’s right for their unique needs.
Continuously looking for new ways to serve members, CDA launched Practice Support in 2009 —a team of dedicated experts to help members navigate the business side of dentistry.
As a leader in legislative advocacy, CDA’s legacy includes notable successes for members’ practices, such as third-party payer issues as well as public health initiatives including community water fluoridation and the passage of the 2016 state tobacco tax. CDA continues to adapt its advocacy efforts to the current events of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most recently, advocacy efforts have pushed for economic relief, and to prevent budget cuts to the Medi-Cal dental program. Advocacy has also paved an alternate pathway to licensure for dental school graduates through manikin-based examinations.
In 2001, the CDA Foundation was established to improve the oral health of Californians. 11 years later, the Foundation hosted its first CDA Cares event — a volunteer dental clinic that provides treatment to underserved communities at no cost. The foundation continues to achieve its mission of helping dentists meet community needs through several programs and grants that provide financial relief to members, alleviates student debt and places dental professionals in communities that lack oral health care resources.
As an innovator in education, CDA established one of the leading dental conventions in the nation in 1974. With hundreds of credited continuing education opportunities, CDA Presents the Arts and Science of Dentistry offers a space for dental professionals from across the country to learn, grow and bond over a common purpose.
Over the last 150 years, the history of dentistry in California includes the founding of six highly competitive dental schools. Eager to shape the future of dentistry, CDA’s student membership is made up of a dynamic community of young professionals who offer their time and skills to CDA’s advocacy efforts and community outreach programs – all for the betterment of the dentistry profession.
Looking forward to another 150 years, CDA continues to evolve to meet the needs of California dentists and remains dedicated to making each year a richer experience for members.