The Chicago Dental Society was organized in 1864 and incorporated in 1878. The CDS shares in the objectives of the nation's leading dental associations in its commitment to encouraging the improvement of the health of the public. When joining the Chicago Dental Society, a dentist also becomes a member of the American Dental Association and the Illinois State Dental Society. However, instead of paying three separate dues, members pay once annually to belong to all local, state and national levels. Raising awareness about oral health issues while promoting the art and science of dentistry to the general public are primary ways in which the CDS seeks to achieve that mission, while maintaining its position as a political advocate working in the interest of its members and the general public.
There are approximately 4,100 Chicago Dental Society members in the Chicago metropolitan area. Because this large number of members is located over a wide geographical area (Cook, DuPage and Lake counties), the organization is divided into nine branches. Branch membership ranges from 150 to 900 members making some of the branches larger in membership than some state dental societies in their entirety! Members are usually assigned to the branch closest to their dental practices, or may ask to join a branch close to their homes.
The CDS's Midwinter Meeting offers one of the largest dental exhibitions in the United States. For instance, at the 2009 event - the 144th convocation of the Midwinter Meeting - representatives from more than 600 manufacturers, dealers, suppliers and labs signed on to attend. Many exhibitors use the Midwinter Meeting as the setting for introductions of new dental products, and offer special incentives during the Midwinter Meeting, making this massive occasion an integral part in how the dental industry interacts with dental professionals, and how dental merchandising and dental technology interfaces with the public at large. The Meeting offers its attendees a wide array of lectures, scientific programs, a scientific exhibit and an exhibit hall where the latest and most cutting-edge advances in dentistry are showcased.