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The Irish Dental Association: a century of advocating for Irish dentists and oral health

To mark the centenary of its foundation, the Irish Dental Association has published a fascinating history of its work over the past century.

irish dental association

Members of the Irish delegation attending the FDI congress in London, 1952 (IDA Archive).

In May 2023, FDI member, the Irish Dental Association (IDA) celebrated its centenary and marked the occasion with a special A Centenary History publication. The Association commissioned historians Dr Eoin Kinsella and Dr Frances Nolan to complete the project, resulting in a vital account of the IDA that explores both the Association’s history and its influence on the dental profession in Ireland and internationally.

Discover the rich legacy of the Irish Dental Association and their remarkable efforts in advancing national oral health

The IDA traces its roots to 1887, when an Irish branch of the British Dental Association was established in Dublin. Influenced by the seismic events of the revolutionary period, in late 1922 the Irish branch seceded – on amicable terms – to establish the Irish Dental Association as an independent advocate for dentists in the Irish Free State. Over the course of the last century the Association has been at the forefront of efforts to improve the ‘art and science’ of dentistry, to promote better oral health and to advocate on behalf of its members.

As the leading voice of the profession in Ireland, the Association has been integral to some of the most important public health campaigns of the twentieth century, such as the inclusion of public dental health provisions under the National Health Insurance Scheme and the fluoridation of the water supply in the 1960s. More recently the Association has led efforts to reform the medical card scheme and to raise public awareness of the importance of dental health. Events of the past two years, which saw the Association at the forefront in guiding the response of dental practitioners to the COVID-19 pandemic, have reinforced its importance as the representative association for Irish dentists.

Among the topics explored in the book is the Association’s long-standing connection with FDI, which began shortly after the Association’s foundation. In early August 1948, the IDA hosted over eighty delegates from sixteen countries as the FDI held its Annual Session in Dublin for the first time. The programme included discussions on the effect of diet during the Second World War on dental caries, and on the problem of teeth from youth to old age. Twelve years later the FDI’s congress returned to Dublin; on this occasion over 800 delegates from 26 countries arrived in the city. Proceedings opened with a reception at the Shelbourne Hotel on Sunday, 19 June, with over 550 guests in attendance. The scientific programme began on Tuesday 21 June, with a theme focused on ‘Fundamental Principles of Full Dental Prosthesis’. A full programme of lectures, demonstrations and films ran throughout the week, while a military conference was attended by representatives from the military dental services of several nations. The Scientific programme was accompanied by a full schedule of entertainments.

FDI takes immense pride in counting IDA amongst its membership and commends their outstanding dedication to enhancing oral health care throughout the country. Read the centenary history to learn about IDA’s journey and their countless efforts to promote better oral health for all.

Find out how to get a copy of The Centenary History

Editor’s note: this article was submitted by an external party and has been edited according to FDI’s editorial guidelines. The views expressed are those of the original author.