Credentialling in Cosmetic Dentistry

by Wes Urich, DDS

We work in such a great profession where we can have a positive effect on a patient’s overall health and well-being, boosting self-confidence and often creating a life changing experience. Very rewarding for the patient and dental team.

My professional and personal growth as a clinician started in 1991 when I joined the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD) and decided to go through the Accreditation process. The journey, which is still in progress, was started with the intention of improving my skills and excelling as a cosmetic dentist. It has been incredible.

I became Accredited in 1997, an examiner in 1998 and have served on the American Board of Cosmetic Dentistry (ABCD), the credentialing authority of the AACD, since 2002.

Numerous educational venues in cosmetic dentistry exist. A handful offer a “credential” ranging from a referral and membership to an extended continuum to achieve it. Your [cosmetic editorial board member] editor, Dr. Jordan Soll, has been gracious enough to ‘Give Me A Break’ and an opportunity to provide some accurate information about the AACD credential that may clear up some misperceptions.

The AACD is dedicated to advancing the art and science of cosmetic dentistry and encouraging the highest standards of ethical conduct and responsible patient care among cosmetic dentists. The purpose of the ABCD is the testing, analyzing, and evaluation of the services of dentists and laboratory technicians for the purpose of awarding AACD Accreditation in cosmetic dentistry. I have seen the protocol and requirements evolve into a very fair, structured and anonymous testing process that has retained the high standards that were set by those before me. Dr. Brad Olson, the current Accreditation Chair, and his committee have done a fantastic job of training examiners, setting up workshops, and publishing articles in the AACD Journal that have resulted in a continual increase of passed cases, over 60 percent in the last examination session. This is the goal of the ABCD.

In defense of Dr. Soll and his April 2004 editorial, ‘Give Me A Break,’ Accreditation in the AACD is not for everybody. However, the AACD is a premier cosmetic dental organization and membership is open to all dental professionals internationally with more than 7,000 members in 60+ countries. We do not claim to own cosmetic dentistry but we do claim to have the most complete educational resource and testing venue for cosmetic dentistry in our profession. This statement is backed by a variety of things. The highest compliment one can receive is to have others copy what you already have established. Our testing has been validated by national testing boards. Our examination process has been and will be, observed by members of ADA recognized specialties, world renowned non-AACD member educators in cosmetic dentistry, and editors of highly regarded publications. Their positive response to our process only helps to validate our credential.

The Private Educational Advisory Council (PEAC) of the AACD, established for mutually beneficial relationships to share educational ideas, allows members of the Academy to receive training needed to optimize their chances of achieving Accredited status. PEAC members must have an Accredited member as a director. Courses are recommended by the ABCD as learning opportunities for members. The PEAC currently has 19 institutions and more than 80 approved courses! Members such as the Dawson Center, Pankey Institute, Hornbrook Group, and the Kois Center, to name a few, allow dentists a great opportunity to improve their skills in cosmetic dentistry. This is the goal of the AACD, ABCD and PEAC.

Our annual Scientific Sessions have record attendance increases yearly. World-renowned educators on our programs presenting without honorariums. Is this because of our credential? Absolutely not. The excitement over cosmetic dentistry is at an all time high. Even though there are those that choose their educational opportunities or “credentialling” route as part of their marketing strategy, I strongly believe that the majority choose the journey that allows them to become a better cosmetic dentist. The AACD just happens to be a widely accepted venue in our profession. Please visit

I think we all can agree that perception is reality in many cases. Our perceptions are often influenced by what we read and hear, sometimes without factual information. I thank my colleague, Dr. Jordan Soll, for Giving Me A Break and allowing me to write this viewpoint that may alter some perceptions on the AACD and it’s credential. Whatever path you choose to improve your skills in cosmetic dentistry, thoroughly enjoy the journey and do it well. Your patients will thank you.

Dr. Urich graduated from the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry in 1983. His practice in the Minneapolis area has a focus on comprehensive esthetic, restorative, and implant dentistry. As an accredited member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD), Dr. Urich also serves on the American Board of Cosmetic Dentistry of the AACD and is an Accreditation examiner. He is a founding member and past president of the Minnesota Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. Dr. Urich has been recognized as a top cosmetic and general dentist in the MPLS ST.PAUL MAGAZINE by his peers.