Welcome to the website

International Dental Ethics & Law Society


The Society has been established to foster an international dialogue on the values guiding the practice of oral health care. This dialogue is intended to be multidisciplinary, involving the disciplines of dentistry and auxiliary oral health sciences on the one hand, and those of ethics and law on the other, as well as related disciplines such as philosophy, the humanities and the social sciences. The Society is open to all interested in partaking in this dialogue.

As the name suggests, it is an association whose members approach dental ethics and law from many professional and discipline perspectives.

  • oral health professionals who deliver care to patients;
  • lawyers, regulators, administrators who provide framework and management;
  • educators, writers, and researchers;
  • in the fields of dentistry, philosophy, the humanities and social sciences.

The purpose IDEALS is to provide an opportunity for such a diverse group to exchange ideas, to share research and debate experiences in ethics and law as they relate to dentistry. 

IDEALS is a group of people who had an interest in dental ethics and law but because of their other work found themselves scattered thinly within their countries and needed to link with others to gain the  benefits from sharing expertise and knowledge.


The Society was established to foster an international dialogue on the values guiding the practice of oral health care. This dialogue is intended to be multidisciplinary, involving the disciplines of dentistry and auxiliary oral health sciences on the one hand, and those of ethics and law on the other, as well as related disciplines such as philosophy, the humanities and the social sciences. The Society is open to all interested in partaking in this dialogue.


Specific Objectives

  • To foster exchange of ideas, experiences and knowledge in the fields of dental ethics, dental law and related disciplines.
  • To advance understanding and consideration of the values, patient rights and professional duties that guide the clinical practice of dentistry and oral health care.
  • To advance the level of academic education in the aforementioned disciplines.
  • To promote research and other scholarly activities, thereby increasing the available resources in the aforementioned disciplines.
  • To promote the development of public policies that are respectful of the rights of patients and research subjects as well as the professional character of the oral health care disciplines.

A short history of the Society


In the final two decades of the 20th century, interest in the disciplines of dental ethics and law began to rise rather quickly. At the inspiring initiative of Dr. Yvo Vermylen (Belgium), the first International Congress on Dental Law was held in Belgium (Leuven 1992). Subsequent international dental law congresses in Denmark (Copenhagen 1995) and the United Kingdom (London 1998) were expanded to include the field of dental ethics. Two Dental Ethics Summits were held in USA (St. Louis 1998 and Nashville 2000). Half a dozen dental ethics textbooks appeared in various languages and the number of dental law textbooks grew larger as well. Various local societies for dental ethics and/or law were founded. But an international association had yet to be founded.

In late 1999, a number of experts in the field of dental ethics and law decided to explore the feasibility of a new international society. The group was expanded to a total of ten, representing as many different countries. This Planning Committee defined the nature and scope of the new society, its primary functions and structure. The Statutes were completed in the latter half of 2000, and the Society was formally incorporated in Belgium in December of 2000. The Founding Board first met on December 29-30, 2000, in Leuven  – the site of the first congress.


The IDEALS Founding Board

  • Yvo Vermylen (Belgium), President
  • Greg Waldron (UK), Treasurer
  • Jos Welie (USA), Secretary
  • David Frenkel (Israel), Asst. Secretary
  • Richard Speers (Canada), President-Elect
  • John Clement (Australia)
  • Sefik Gorkey (Turkey)
  • Gunilla Nordenram (Sweden)
  • Sytse Strijbos (Netherlands)
  • Karsten Thuen (Denmark)


In addition, two members were elected to the original Financial Review Committee:
Lorne Rozovsky (USA) and Gareth Thomas (UK)

The membership drive was started immediately in preparation of the first General Assembly. On 27 October 2001, the General Assembly met for the first time during the 4th International Conference of Dental Law and Ethics in Amsterdam. More than thirty members attended the Congress in Amsterdam representing fifteen countries (Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Turkey, UK, USA).

Since the Congress in Amsterdam, Congresses have been held in Omaha (Nebraska, USA) 2003, Florence (Italy) 2005, Toronto (Canada) 2007, Helsinki (Finland) 2010, Leuven (Belgium) 2012, Cape Town (South Africa) 2014, Chicago (USA) 2016, Amsterdam (2018) and Leuven (Belgium in 2022.

Over 500 people have been members or attended congresses and they have represented 43 countries. Even though IDEALS is a relatively small group for an international Society, this reflects the number of people who have an active role working in the discipline of ethics and law in dentistry. It has the advantage that members can share much more personal contact and can do so with a variety of disciplines and nationalities.

An overview of IDEALS Statutes


This overview is prepared as a quick reference and is not intended to replace or supplement the official Dutch version or the unofficial English translation. For accuracy, readers are advised to consult the original versions.

Legal Status

The International Dental Ethics and Law Society (IDEALS) is formed under Belgium law as a not-for-profit organization and it is subject to Belgium laws and regulations. Its official seat is in Belgium.


There are Individual members and Institutional members.

Individual membership is open to anyone who shares the interests of IDEALS and is approved by the Board. Members may cancel at any time and can be excluded by 2/3 vote at a General Assembly

The official version of the Statutes is available for download in our members only area.

General Assembly

GA is the main authority of IDEALS and meets every two years at the Congress.

  •  A quorum consists of 25% of the membership.
  • Decisions are reached by a simple majority except for changes of statutes, exclusion of members, removal of board members, termination of the association where a 2/3rd majority is required.
  • Members can submit agenda proposals to Board 2 months prior to the GA
  • Voting is in person or in writing. Proxy votes are not allowed.


The board consists of an odd number (maximum 15) and with staggered terms. Nominations and self- nominations are submitted to the Board 2 months before GA.

  • Board members are elected for 4 years and can be re-elected for an additional 4 years. After 8 years, there is a 2-year gap before returning to the Board.
  • Board members are elected at the GA.  
  • The office of president is automatically transferred to the President-elect at end of term if the president resigns.
  • President and President-elect term is for 4 years.
  • Secretary and treasurer positions are elected/re-elected at the GA and are exempt from the 8-year maximum term.  
  • The Board convenes twice a year with a quorum of 50% and majority vote on issues.
  • The Board can make decisions on all issues except dissolution of IDEALS.

Statutes, Bylaws, and Policies

 Statuten.pdf (4004232 bytes)
Official Statutes of the Society in the Dutch language, as approved by the Belgium government on March 18, 2005

 Statutes.pdf (113726 bytes)
English translation of statutes (2005 version)

The International Dental Ethics and Law Society presently undertakes the following activities:


1. International Congress on Dental Law and Ethics

Sponsorship (or co-sponsorship) of the bi-annual International Congress of IDEALS.

The first four such congresses were held in Louvain (1992), Copenhagen (1995), London (1998) and Amsterdam (2001). The International Dental Ethics and Law Society (IDEALS) was established in 2001. Since then Congresses have been held in Omaha (USA) 2003, Florence (Italy) 2005, Toronto (Canada) 2007), Helsinki (Finland) 2010, Leuven (Belgium) 2012, Cape Town (South Africa) 2014 and Chicago (USA) 2016.




2. IDEALS Bulletin

Publication of an informative Bulletin with short articles, book reviews, abstracts of recent articles in dental ethics and law, and news items. Originally this was available in print form, and then converted to electronic format. When IDEALS started, there was a scarcity of material on ethics and law that specifically related to dentistry. That has changed over the decades and the future direction of the Bulletin is under review.




3. IDEALS Webpage

The Society created and maintained a webpage from 2001. At present, the webpage has a publicly accessible section and a section for members-only section.  The actual Website was released in 2017




4. Network

One of the primary functions of IDEALS is to foster contacts and communications between individuals and institutions interested in or concerned about the ethical and legal aspects of oral health care. IDEALS maintains a detailed membership database of all of its members that is available electronically. Other electronic networking facilities were developed and are being reviewed and upgraded for the new Webpage.




5. Other activities

IDEALS has co-sponsored ethics and law sessions that have been held at national and local conferences and meetings.

Ad hoc working groups develop and distribute papers on specific topics such as torture, child protection and expert witnesses. 

The Board of IDEALS consists of a minimum of 5 and maximum of 15 members elected by members at the Bi-Annual General Meeting.

For more information on the structure of the Board, please consult the Society’s Statutes.

Current Board Members

Position Name
President Sudeshni Naidoo (South Africa)
President Elect Luc Marks (Belgium)
Treasurer Carlos Contreras (Belgium)
Secretary Suzette Porter (Australia)
Ass Treasurer Richard Speers (Canada)
Ass Secretary Arosha Weerakoon (Australia)
Members Joe Graskemper (USA)
  Zvonimir Kaic (Croatia)
Ivana Cukovic- Bagic(Croatia) 
  Yvo Vermylen (Belgium)
Christl Verbiest (Belgium)
Wolter Brands (Netherlands)
Ward van Dijk (Netherlands
Michael Ragan (USA)


Congress Committee

Position Name
Congress Committee Vyo Vermylen



Scientific Committee

Position Name
Scientific Committee Luc Marks (Chair)