When Laura Kelly, President of LK Dental Studio, attended her first American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD) meeting in 1989, she was amazed. "It was the first time I experienced an organization that really embraced technicians, put them on the forefront of cosmetic dentistry and sponsored education aimed at both technicians and dentists. I fell in love with the organization."
Since then Kelly has remained an active member, was honored to be the first technician--and first woman--to be President of the Academy and currently serves on the Board of Directors. In keeping with its inclusive nature, two other laboratory owners and managers also serve on the AACD Board of Directors: Andre Michel, CDT, Owner of Andre's Dental Studio; Andre Theberge, RDT, CDT, Laboratory Manager at Drake Precision Dental Lab; and serving on the American Board of Cosmetic Dentistry (ABCD), Dwight Rickert, CDT, Owner of Preferred Dental Ceramics.
Founded in 1984, the AACD is now the world's largest organization for cosmetic dental professionals with over 6,000 members, more than 200 of whom are dental technicians. From a business perspective, membership provides valuable opportunities for networking with dentists and attending teamwork-focused courses together, especially at the annual Scientific Session*. "It's a great side-by-side learning experience that increases your skill set and knowledge and puts everyone on the same page," says Kelly.
In addition, the AACD provides accreditation and fellowship programs in cosmetic dentistry to both dentists and technicians who want to take it to the next level. Achieving accredited status requires dedication to continuing education, careful attention to the accreditation protocols and the ability to produce exceptional dentistry. It's a three-part process that typically takes several years to complete. It consists of written and oral exams and photographs and documentation of three different types of cases: a bridge or single implant; six or more indirect restorations; and one or two indirect restorations matched to existing dentition.
Often, a technician and a dentist-client go through the accreditation process together. While this is advantageous, especially for the technician who is dependent on the dentist for the required photographs, it's also a team-building experience. "Achieving accreditation is very challenging and there's a lot of camaraderie among those who are going through it together," says Rickert, who is one of only 38 technicians to be accredited. "It's not about getting more business but rather about the relationship you're developing with the client by sharing a common goal and understanding what both of you are trying to achieve."
- This year's Scientific Session is April 24-27 in Seattle and the dentist-technician-focused courses include Drs. John Kois and Betsy Bakeman on Achieving Esthetic Nirvana vs. Functional Misery; Drs. John Cranham and Leonard Hess on Lost in Translation? Communicating Incisal Edge Position with Your Laboratory; and Dr. Frank Milnar and Master Ceramist Jennifer Wohlberg on Composite Artistry: Advanced Layering Concepts Combined with the Artist Palette to Create a Composite Veneer. AACD members receive discounted tuition rates and, this year, the Academy is offering a special discounted rate of $695 to technicians attending the meeting for the first time. For details, visit www.aacdconference.com.