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Our History

Having only been officially established in 2004, DTA would appear to be a relatively young organization. However, our history reaches further back than almost any other active trade organization in the United States. This is because DTA is actually the product of a consolidation between two much older organizations, the American Dental Trade Association (ADTA) and the Dental Manufacturers of America (DMA). For nearly 125 years, these organizations were the primary voices of the dental trade in North America. Their programs, practices, and, most importantly, their members helped shape DTA into the organization it is today. To that end, DTA is proud to celebrate not just our own accomplishments, but the accomplishments of ALL the men and women who worked tirelessly on behalf of their organizations and their industry.

ADTA and DMA had their share of differences, but both organizations recognized that cooperation was essential to the health of the dental trade. From a very early date, DMA and ADTA’s exhibits committees worked together to refine trade show practices that were placing undue burdens on manufacturers and dealers alike. Later on, as both organizations eased their membership requirements, there were even a few instances where individuals held leadership positions in both organizations, such as Morton Charlestein, one of DMA’s most senior members. These acts of collaboration, small though they were, would be crucial in paving the way for the two organizations to merge.

After numerous false starts, both organizations finally agreed to consolidate in 2004. Rather than allowing one organization to subsume the other, members agreed to form an entirely new organization under the leadership of former ADTA CEO, Gary Price. This new organization would combine the best aspects of both organizations, from ADTA’s focus on regulatory issues to DMA’s entrepreneurial programs. As one can see from the preceding passages, many of DTA’s innovative programs are, in fact, continuations of much older programs that have helped to educate and grow the dental trade.

With all that said, DTA has accomplished a lot more than just healing old divisions and upholding our most important traditions. Since 2004, we have been finding new ways to utilize technology for our member’s benefit. Our venerable Introduction to Dentistry training course is now completely online, and we are also holding online seminars (webinars) throughout the year. Our organization also now has a significant presence on Capitol Hill. While the initial aim of this is to combat the 2% excise tax on Class II medical device manufacturers in the Affordable Care Act, we also hope that a presence on the Hill will bring greater attention to issues relating to our industry and oral healthcare in America. Finally, we continue to work closely with the FDA to ensure that new regulations do not adversely affect our industry.

While our purpose is to enhance member success and increase dental demand, DTA is also mindful of a moral obligation to improve access to oral health care and to grow the professional community. In 2002, the DTA Foundation was established to fund innovative, replicable and sustainable dental programs with a purpose to increase access to oral health care in America. In 2009, DTA introduced Oral Healthcare Can’t Wait®, a public awareness campaign intended to help dentists foster awareness of the oral-systemic link and to encourage more people to visit their dentist. Most recently, DTA helped create the Partnership for Healthy Mouths, Healthy Lives, a coalition of major oral health organizations and professional societies to partner with The Advertising Council for a multi-million dollar public awareness campaign. The Kids’ Healthy Mouths campaign focuses on grass roots educational messages aimed at educating kids and care givers about the importance of brushing kids’ teeth for two minutes, twice a day.

Initiatives such as these are the reason why DTA continues to remain relevant. However, we would not be where we are today without our members. From the small dealer just starting up to the manufacturer that has been family-owned for generations, we continue to take pride in all of our members’ accomplishments. Although associations are most often judged on quantity of members in its ranks, it is the quality of those members that truly matters, and in this regard, DTA continues to be extraordinarily blessed. Thus, even as we celebrate our past accomplishments, we remain focused on creating a bright future for both our members and the dental trade as a whole.