by Eric Nelson, Director of Communications
American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry
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In June, I had the privilege to spend time with AACD Founding Father Dr. Jack Kammer in my office in Madison, Wisc. I thought it was important to take a look back at the history of AACD as we prepare to celebrate our silver anniversary in Hawaii next year.
Needless to say, Dr. Jack provided a wealth of insight, knowledge, and perspective on his brainchild that has since grown into the largest cosmetic dental association in the world.
Nelson: What inspired you to start AACD some 25 years ago? What was your vision for the Academy?
Dr. Kammer: It started in 1982with a cosmetics meeting in Hot Springs, Ark., that I was invited to by Dr. Ronald Goldstein. After talking with several of my colleagues from around the country, I started thinking about the future of cosmetic dentistry and where it was headed. I thought there should be an organization that educated all dentists — neophytes and expert practitioners — on the rapidly evolving field of cosmetic dentistry. So I started what is known today as the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry.
Nelson: As we prepare to celebrate AACD's 25th Anniversary Scientific Session in Hawaii in 2009, tell me what the first AACD conference was like.
Dr. Kammer: The first AACD meeting was held in Las Vegas in December 1984. Just more than 40 dentists showed up — a nucleus that helped us really gain momentum going into the future. We had just two dental speakers — Dr. William Strupp, Jr., who gave a wonderful presentation on "Cosmetic Anterior Bridgework" and Dr. Jeff Morley, who presented "Advanced Techniques in Bonding." We also had a PhD who spent much time discussing the definition of "cosmetic."
The registration fee was only $150. A small but dedicated group of corporate supporters made up our first group of exhibitors. They included BISCO, Caulk, Den–Mat, John's Dental Lab, Johnson & Johnson, Quality Systems, and Vic Pollard Dental Products, who I think has been to every AACD meeting since!
Overall, the meeting went well. I was elected president and Dr. Morley was elected vice president. Dr. Michael Miller volunteered to run the Accreditation Committee. We were off and running!
Nelson: The size and scope of the Academy has expanded greatly in the last quarter century. What do you think is the most significant impact AACD has made on the world of dentistry?
Dr. Kammer: The Academy is now nearly 8,000 members strong in more than 70 countries. By educating these dentists in the art and science of cosmetic dentistry, we have changed the lives of literally millions of people around the world. This is a big thing!
Nelson: How has the cosmetic dentistry world evolved since the AACD's inception in terms of tools, techniques, and materials?
Dr. Kammer: In 1988, I was interviewed by a local publication and predicted that cosmetic dentistry would skyrocket due to the advancement of space–age materials. Tools, techniques, and materials have impacted this freight train and I don't see it slowing down.
Nelson: Why did you select Madison as the location for AACD's headquarters?
Dr. Kammer: Believe it or not, I ran the AACD from an operatory in my office for the first eight years of its existence before we moved downstairs in my building. As the Academy grew, so did the need for more space to house our growing staff. Eventually, AACD needed its own building, so we moved to the office park where the executive office headquarters is now located.
Nelson: It is clear you have a passion for AACD and cosmetic dentistry. What is your favorite memory in the Academy during the past 25 years?
Dr. Kammer: Being inducted into the AACD Hall of Fame in New Orleans this year was one of my top memories. It was an incredible honor. Another was the celebration of my 50th year in dentistry when former AACD Executive Director Bob Hall gave a great speech and presented me with a wonderful plaque.
Not all the times have been easy for the Academy in its growth. There have been some rocky roads. I have even made a few good enemies, but that's OK! The original concept of the Academy has survived all of the challenges we have faced.
Nelson: What do you foresee in the next 25 years of the AACD and for cosmetic dentistry?
Dr. Kammer: Cosmetic dentistry is definitely not going away. There will be many dentists who grab a hold of the profession and make it their own. There is so much satisfaction in performing dentistry on patients. This is where I have always received my rewards! With programs like Give Back A Smile and the impact we have already made on the public, I don't see it stopping.
The AACD's goal has always been and always will be to welcome dental professionals to come and learn. This is what has brought us here today, and what will lead us into the future.
Nelson: Thanks, Dr. Jack. It was an honor to speak with you.
Eric Nelson is the Director of Communications at the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. Nelson holds a bachelor's degree in journalism with dual emphases in public relations and advertising from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He oversees all AACD promotional efforts, including the organization's consumer marketing programs. He can be reached at [email protected].