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CE Showcase ASM2017: Advertising in Dentistry: Ethical Perspectives

It was a pleasure for me to speak with Dr. Jos Welie, Professor in the Center for Health Policy and Ethics at Creighton University, in Omaha. In an era where social and digital media are becoming too mainstream, and with heightened competition, where does advertising  in dentistry stand and does it succeed the ethics test? Dr. Welie is a speaker at #ASM150 and his lecture will be presented along with Drs. Speers and Quiñonez and is titled: Advertising in Dentistry: Ethical Perspectives.

Chiraz Guessaier, CDA Oasis Manager  


Why is advertising (as opposed to simply informing patients) an ethically challenging issue? This lecture will help participants gain an understanding of the history of dental advertising and will present an ethical assessment of contemporary advertising practices.

It will discuss reasons in favor of professional restrictions on advertising by dentists and reasons against such restrictions. It will also look at new marketing modalities in the context of debates around dental advertising.

Special focus will ultimately be paid to how this state of affairs influences the dentist’s professionalism, public trust, and dentistry’s position within society as a caring profession.

Learning Objectives

  • To develop a critical understanding of what is appropriate messaging to potential patients and to consider what might be expected in the future of dental advertising.
  • To understand the social and economic drivers of dental advertising and to understand how existing ethical principles address advertising in the public domain.
  • To assess the ethical ramifications of advertising practices on the future status of dentistry as a caring profession.

The lecture runs on May 5th 10:00 am – 12:30 pm and is repeated at 2:30 – 5:00 pm.




  1. Dentistry CAN change people’s lives, just the same as cosmetic surgery can be helpful. The ban on advertising has surged again in an attempt to reduce the promotion of aesthetic care. Does this stop the occasional case of abusive treatment? It simply provides a false sense of security to regulators who are often years behind in matching laws to innovation. The focus of ethics should be on informed consent and not fussing over the use of before and after photographs or testimonials. Online testimonials can be manipulated and will never be blocked. Call me and I’ll tell you a few things that will shock you about ethics in dentistry.

  2. To provide the kind of 21st century dentistry that patients have come to expect, the cost of equipment, staff, and facility is astronomical. Dentists are able to provide dental care that was unthinkable only fifty yeras ago … not just in the 18th century as Dr. Jos Welie is prone to suggest. Not only that, but the restrictions placed on dentists … both in advertising, and in the practice of dentistry, are becoming so cumbersome that dentists are either leaving their practices, going bankrupt, or providing fewer dental options to their patients.
    The advertising rules present in the Regulations of most Dental Associations are quite specific, and stipulate that advertising must be “objectively verifiable”, and must not be false or misleading. These are the same practical rules found in government regulations pertaining to advertising ANYTHING to the public.
    Dentistry is not only a health profession, it is a “business”. It is set up as a business, it hires staff, it pruchases expensive equipment, it pays taxes. But unlike a person like Dr. Jos Welie who just ‘talks’ about how advertising harms a patient from an ethical standpoint, dentists actually care for patients’ health, alleviate their pain, diagnose cancer of the mouth and other health problems, and perhaps even restore a person’s smile after serious injury.
    Dr. Jos Welie should remember the old saying … those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach. In his case … perhaps ‘preach’ is more appropriate.

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