Who is the MDA?

Collage of smiling people. The phrase "Creating smiles across Michigan" is displayed on top of the photos

Who is the MDA?

The Michigan Dental Association (MDA) has represented dentistry since its founding in 1856, but we’re more than just a professional organization of 5,900 dentists.  The MDA is dedicated to ensuring that Michigan residents receive the highest quality oral health care.  We advance this goal through advocacy for the dental profession and dental patients with state government, and through statewide initiatives that expand access and promote oral health literacy.

Our charitable activities help fund clinics and educational programs across the state, improving the lives of thousands of people.  Our members offer free services to help uninsured veterans, low-income, elderly and other underserved Michiganders.

The Michigan Dental Association represents our state’s primary oral health connection.  This connection is shown by the level of commitment our dedicated people have in protecting the profession and believing that everyone deserves a healthy smile!

We are:


Connecting Michiganders to the quality information and care they need to protect their smile.


Representing a respected and knowledgeable profession committed to the highest ethical standards.


Committing to life-long learning and to providing the highest quality of practice so that you and your family can receive the best oral care.


Delivering a friendly and welcoming experience with every interaction with members, colleagues and the public.

We believe:

  • Oral health is integral to overall health.
  • In an inclusive environment that embraces diversity.
  • That the profession of dentistry and the oral health team must be led by the dentist to ensure the safety of the public.
  • That life-long learning is critical to excellence in patient care.
Smile Michigan website displayed on a mobile phone

Your Connection to Oral Health

Educating Michigan adults on the importance of oral health is a top priority for the MDA.  Over the last thirty years, we have committed to educating people throughout Michigan with a $1 million annual statewide public education campaign.  This advertising campaign focuses on connecting people to the credible information and care they need to maintain a healthy smile.

With more people searching online to find quick information about everything these days, including how to take care of their teeth, much of our campaign is focused on digital platforms.  Smilemichigan.com is Michigan’s primary resource for oral health information.  Whether you are a new mom wondering when you should take your baby in for that first dental visit, or a recent grad who landed that first professional job and you have no idea what a dental insurance plan is – the Smile Connection blog on smilemichigan.com is the place to find up-to-date information on all things related to your smile.

Helping Michigan residents find an MDA dentist is another focus for the public education campaign.  Smilemichigan.com includes the MDA Find-a-Dentist tool to help anyone in Michigan find an MDA dentist in their area.  Over 4,000 people use this tool every month to help them find a dentist.   When it comes to your oral health, it is important to get information and find care from a trusted source.  The MDA knows that increasing the public’s awareness and education about oral health is one key to helping them protect their smile throughout their lives.

Did you know?

You can still visit the dentist even if you don’t have dental insurance.  Many people without dental insurance find that regular dental care is affordable, especially since preventative treatment helps to avoid future problems, before they become more serious and expensive to treat.

Your oral health is connected to your overall health.  Studies show that during a routine checkup, a dentist can spot symptoms that may indicate serious medical problems such as diabetes or heart disease.

You should take your child to see the dentist before their first birthday.   It’s important to start cleaning and prevention early, as most baby teeth start to erupt at about six months and cavities can occur even that young.

Fluoridated water can prevent tooth decay.  Research proves that
fluoridation reduces tooth decay by at least 25 percent.

Dentists are doctors.  The level of education and clinical training required to earn a dental degree, and the high academic standards of dental schools, are on par with those of medical schools and are essential to preparing dentists to provide high quality patient care.

51 million school hours are missed each year by children because of oral health related problems.  Tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease – 5 times more common than asthma.

Having a dental routine is key to maintaining a life-long healthy smile. It is recommended to brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, floss daily and visit your MDA dentist at least two times per year.

An adult holding a child's hand

Improving Dental Health Throughout Michigan

The Michigan Dental Association Foundation (MDAF) is the charitable organization of the MDA focused on improving dental health throughout Michigan.  The MDAF is able to impact the lives of thousands of Michiganders due to fundraising initiatives that provide support to clinics and charities educating and providing care throughout the state.  For example, over the last five years, $300,000 in grants were provided to clinics throughout Michigan. These clinics provided care to over 126,900 people who wouldn’t ordinarily receive care.

Another impactful MDAF program is the Michigan Mission of Mercy (MOM) held every two years.  The MOM is a charitable, two-day program during which thousands of volunteers provide free dental care to those in need.  Since 2013, the MOM has provided more than $4 million in free dental care with over 5,100 patients treated.  The impact that the MOM has on Michigan’s underserved is remarkable.  Some patients come to the program in severe pain or haven’t been able to smile in years.  To be able to receive the care they need in one day and walk out healthier, with a smile on their face, demonstrates the impact of the MDAF’s commitment and compassion.

A child high-fiving a dentist


A smiling patient with 2 dentists


A dentist hugging a smiling patient

Restoring Smiles and Hope

Volunteer dentists participating with the Michigan Donated Dental Services (DDS) program use their expertise to provide free comprehensive dental treatment to thousands of Michigan’s most vulnerable residents. The DDS program provides free, once-in-a-lifetime, desperately needed oral health care to elderly, permanently disabled or medically fragile patients who need extensive dental care, but lack the resources to obtain it.  In many cases, dental treatment must be completed in order to begin treatment of a serious illness – so this dental care can even be life-saving.  Not only are DDS volunteer dentists restoring smiles, but giving hope to those who have no other option.

Through a generous annual grant from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the donation of services from dentists and dental laboratories, the Michigan Donated Dental Services (DDS) program is now active in all counties throughout Michigan.  The program is a licensee of Dental Lifeline Network.  More than 800 volunteer dentists provided over $1.1 million in donated treatment in 2018.  DDS volunteer dentists provided an average of $3,872 in dental care to 245 patients.

A smiling patient and dentist

“It is a true blessing and gift to change someone’s life for the better. It is cases like this and people like Denise that give meaning to our profession. A smile is more than a pretty face – it is a person’s confidence, ability to be part of a community and helps to revive the soul!”
– Dr. Jessica Lambert, DDS Volunteer Dentist

“The DDS staff is so kind and professional.  They made me feel better.  You gave me my smile back and ended my teeth nightmares that they were falling out.  Now I don’t mind going places.  It showed me that in my load of troubles that some people out there still have a heart and care.  I can’t thank you enough.”
– Tammy H., DDS Patient

Outside shot of the Michigan capitol building

Dedicated to Patients and the Profession

Advocacy on behalf of patients throughout Michigan is a key Michigan Dental Association initiative.  Patient education and equal access to preventative and comprehensive oral health care are essential to the overall health and well- being of Michiganders. We understand that investing in oral health care can save money in the long run, not only for families and children, but also for Michigan.  Fostering strong relationships with Michigan legislators and stakeholders, the MDA is able to influence legislation aimed at improving oral health throughout the state.

The MDA advocates for cost-effective public health programs that expand
access to oral health care provided by qualified dental professionals.  Over the past few years, Michigan has seen a lot of progress in improving access to care through the expansion of the Healthy Kids Dental program in all 83 Michigan counties and the inclusion of dental benefits in the Healthy Michigan Plan. Whether it’s lobbying for legislative or regulatory solutions that would add dental screenings for children entering kindergarten, removing the sales tax on dental prosthetics or curbing abusive practices by dental benefit companies, the MDA is a tireless advocate for dentistry and dental patients.

10 Things You Didn’t Know About the MDA

  1. Founded in 1856, the MDA is the oldest professional association in Michigan and the oldest dental society in continuous existence in the USA, pre-dating the American Dental Association.
  2. The MDA Peer Review/Ethics system holds all MDA member dentists accountable to uphold the Standards of Ethics and Code of Professional Conduct of both the Michigan Dental Association and American Dental Association.
  3. The MDA provides an average of 350 credit hours of continuing education for its member dentists and their dental teams annually.
  4. In 1875, the MDA was able to convince the Michigan Legislature to appropriate $3,000 to establish the state’s first dental school at the University of Michigan.
  5. The MDA is one of the largest state dental societies with over 5,900 members; we represent 3 out of 4 active licensed Michigan dentists.
  6. The MDA’s political action committee (PAC) is the second largest health PAC in the state of Michigan.
  7. In 2018 the MDA helped people throughout the state find an MDA dentist with over 97,000 searches on smilemichigan.com’s Find-a-Dentist tool.
  8. Community water fluoridation – one of the greatest achievements in public health– began in Grand Rapids in 1945, a proud achievement for MDA advocacy!
  9. The MDA has impacted the lives of thousands of Michigan’s underserved, with MDA Foundation’s grants of $300,000 and $23 million in donated care through the Michigan Donated Dental Services (DDS) program.
  10. All MDA member dentists are also members of the American Dental Association and their local dental society, connecting them to a powerful network of resources to offer the best patient care every day.