Virginia Dental Association celebrates sesquicentennial in 2020

Virginia Dental AssociationAt a time when the United States was becoming a world leader in advancement in dentistry, a group of nine dentists met in Richmond in 1870.

They discussed the science of dentistry – possibly new technologies like using cohesive gold foil to insert gold into a cavity with minimal pressure and replacing costly gold dentures with vulcanized rubber dentures – sought to improve their professional skills and develop their characters.

Together, they formed the Virginia State Dental Association.

The Virginia Dental Association celebrates its sesquicentennial this November as it strives to represent and serve its nearly 4,000 member dentists by fostering quality oral health care and education.

“It’s fascinating to look back at what was happening in the study of dentistry in the 19th century and the vision our first members had to meet and learn together,” said Dr. Frank Iuorno, Jr. president of the Virginia Dental Association. “Our initial members were at the forefront of change and valued the friendship and exchange of ideas of others. Their goals carry on today as we provide education, advocacy and practice support to our member dentists across Virginia.”

According to historians, Virginia also played an important role in the formation of the American Dental Association, the national professional association of dentistry. Two regional membership organizations merged to form the National Dental Association in 1897 in Hampton, now the American Dental Association.

The VDA recognized its 150th anniversary at its annual meeting in late September, virtually rather than as planned in Norfolk as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Throughout the pandemic, the VDA has been focused on patient, staff and dentist safety. The organization collaborated with the American Dental Association, Virginia Department of Health, the CDC and the Virginia Dental Hygienists’ Association to establish a comprehensive guide for treating patients during the pandemic.

Protocols include:

  • Pre-screening and temperature checks before appointments
  • Patients “check in” by calling the office from the parking lot and wait in their car before the appointment
  • Masks are required to be worn to appointments
  • Appointment schedules staggered to minimize the number of people entering and exiting buildings
  • Dental offices have installed physical barriers such as plexiglass in reception areas
  • Dental staff and dentists are wearing PPE and practicing social distancing
  • Enhanced cleanings of office and equipment with EPA-approved disinfectants

“Our organization was founded to be a resource for dentists across Virginia,” Iuorno said. “We’re always looking for ways to help each other become the best we can be, because we know that translates to the best possible care for our patients across Virginia.”


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