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.

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