The Michigan Dental Association was established on January 8, 1856, making it the oldest dental society in the nation according to the American Dental Association (ADA). What began as a group of 14 dentists gathered in Detroit has since grown to include more than 6,000 dental professionals across 26 local dental societies, and two dental schools across the state. The MDA continues to be Michigan's leading educational, support and charitable association for promoting oral health care among its citizens, as well as a professional organization striving to advance the careers of practicing dentists. Through the MDA, member dentists are eligible to enroll in continuing education courses. From the annual session to a full range of courses that address the needs of dental health professionals of all disciplines, the MDA plays an active role in advancing the careers of its member dentists. The Journal of the Michigan Dental Association is the MDA's official publication which, aside from featuring articles relevant to the ever-changing issues facing today's dental professionals, boasts the largest classified section of any state dental society publication.
The Foundation was set up in 1998 to serve as the charitable arm of the MDA, with the mission to educate and increase awareness of oral health in Michigan. Among the Foundation's key objectives is to secure grants for those seeking to pursue oral health education projects and to increase access to dental care, particularly with regard to the state's low-income or underserved communities. The Foundation also provides scholarships to students either seeking an education in dentistry or currently enrolled in one of the state's accredited dental programs. Creating the best possible environment in the state for the advancement of oral health care access, education and initiatives represents the Foundation's overall mission.
Give Kids a Smile Campaign
In conjunction with the American Dental Association, the MDA participates in the annual Give Kids a Smile Campaign. In 2007, the MDA was represented by 329 member dentists, along with dental hygienists, assistants and volunteers, who provided free dental care and oral health education to more than 37,000 children. Many of the children had little to no access to dental care otherwise, and it is estimated that more than $800,000 worth of dental care was provided to needy children on that occasion. Give Kids a Smile services range from tooth fillings and oral health screenings to education programs, all of which take place in private dental offices, schools, large dental clinics, colleges and universities.