ADEA Dental Faculty Code of Conduct

As men and women responsible for educational preparation of professional care givers, researchers, and educators in health sciences, who place special emphasis on health of the dental, oral, and craniofacial region, faculty appointed in dental schools have special responsibilities. Cooperatively we must be able to assist students of the oral health professions to attain the competencies necessary for entry-level practice. But equally as important as the knowledge and skills underlying the competencies are values that must accompany their exercise in the dental academic environment. These values and consequent behaviors include those that are essential for professionals to act in the best interest of the public and individual patients but additionally include values integral to education and the professoriate.

In January 2003, the ADEA Center for Educational Policy and Research began the development of a Dental Faculty Code of Conduct. A draft of the document was disseminated to other ADEA advisory committees and to the ADEA Councils’ Administrative Boards for review and comment. A variety of changes were incorporated into the document, and the ADEA Board of Directors accepted the revised document in September 2004.

Accordingly, ADEA provides guidance to all dental education institutions, programs, and members through this Code of Conduct, affirming the ethical values deemed essential for appropriate function in faculties of academic dental institutions.

Resolved, that the 2005 House of Delegates approve, accept, and endorse the following Dental Faculty Code of Conduct, including the above preamble.

Essential characteristics basic to the Code of Conduct for dental faculty are:

  • Honesty: truthful and without deception
  • Integrity: consistent adherence to standards and values
  • Openness in communication: candid in oral and written communications without concealing important, relevant facts
  • Trustworthiness: being completely reliable

These characteristics underlie values that must be communicated to serve students, colleagues, institutions, communities, and individual patients. More powerful than communication alone, the values must be modeled by the faculty for students. Dental faculty also must demonstrate enthusiasm about teaching, learning, practicing, research, and service. Under this code, dental faculty make the ethically correct decision, even under adverse pressures.

In the context of this code, “Dental Faculty” includes dentists, dental hygienists, dental assistants, dental laboratory technicians, and basic scientists as well as members of any other discipline(s) who hold faculty appointments in a dental educational institution.

Statement of Expected Behaviors

  1. As dental professionals themselves, or as members of a dental educational institution, dental faculty members have responsibilities to patients, our professions, and our communities at large.
    • We are aware of and model in our conduct the ethical principles of autonomy, non-malfeasance, beneficence, justice, and veracity.
    • We honor the implied contract of the profession with society to work for the public good, and we communicate and model that responsibility for students.
    • We foster access to quality oral health care for all people, sound public health and primary prevention measures, and conditions that support free inquiry into causes, preventions, and treatments of oral and craniofacial conditions.
    • In our direct patient care activities or in the supervision of students caring for patients we:
      • do not discriminate against patients or refuse them care on the basis of race, culture, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, status of handicap, or infectious disease;
      • protect confidentiality of patient records and communications;
      • place the good of patients before the patients’ roles in assisting learning for students or otherwise meeting educational requirements or goals;
      • work within the limits of our professional competence and seek consultation or referral when care of patients would thereby be improved;
      • involve the patient in making well-informed choices about his/her oral health treatment needs;
      • are aware of evidence for and report abuse and neglect when observed in patients, as may also be required by law;
      • ensure access to emergency care for patients;
      • use fees appropriately and in conformance with institutional policy, including appropriate concern for the financial well-being of the institution;
      • work with the entire dental health professional team for the benefit of patients and within applicable law;
      • do not proactively recruit the institution’s active treatment patient population into our private practices.
    • We provide objective and fair assessments of previous treatments provided to patients.
    • We participate in and encourage colleagues and students to contribute to professional organizations, their missions, and leadership.
    • We strive to develop cultural and linguistic competence to better serve our patients and communities.
    • We engage the community in planning and implementing our program.
    • We provide expert testimony in objective fashion within our spheres of knowledge and experience.
    • We otherwise observe the ethical codes of conduct of the profession of dentistry, to include dentists, dental hygienists, dental assistants, and dental laboratory technology.
  2. Dental faculty members know their disciplines.
    • We are prepared educationally and experientially in the knowledge and skills of our respective disciplines.
    • We stay current with relevant new knowledge, continually developing and improving our scholarly competence.
    • We seek to advance as well as to communicate knowledge in our discipline.
    • We are intellectually honest with ourselves, practicing critical self-discipline in our teaching, research, and service activities.
  3. As teachers, dental faculty members serve students.
    • We know and practice good pedagogy.
    • We have zero tolerance for cheating and dishonesty in any form, strictly following institutional policy and due process for managing infractions.
    • We provide criteria-based, constructive, and honest evaluations of student performance, reflecting true merit and guiding improvements where indicated.
    • We encourage free pursuit of learning, not denying access to varying points of view or suppressing or distorting information that may advance a student’s progress toward professional competence.
    • We maintain confidentiality of a student’s disclosures.
    • We do not engage in harassment, exploitation, illegal discrimination, embarrassment, or public disparagement of students.
    • We avoid personal relationships with students that might result in either the appearance or the fact of influence on professional judgments.
    • We make reasonable efforts to protect students from harmful conditions.
    • We communicate and model the scholarly and ethical standards of the oral health professions, including their explicit codes of ethics and conduct.
  4. As members of communities of scholars, dental faculty members have responsibilities to our institutions, other faculty, and other colleagues.
    • We honestly represent our education, training, and professional accomplishments.
    • We respect colleagues’ opinions and defend their rights of free inquiry.
    • We are objective in our professional judgments in evaluations of colleagues and the work of colleagues.
    • We do not harass, intimidate, or covertly criticize colleagues.
    • We respect and promote diversity among our colleagues—cultural, racial, gender, status of handicap, knowledge and skills, and contributions to the totality of the institution’s mission.
    • We foster open discussion of professional differences with faculty and non-faculty professional colleagues.
    • We require evidence of efficacy for procedures taught or otherwise advocated.
    • We encourage and foster academic careers.
    • We avoid conflicts of interest and the appearance of conflicts of interest in our teaching, research, and practice activities.
    • We do not accept personal gifts of more than nominal value from students, research sponsors, dental or scientific suppliers, or anyone or any entity that might benefit from decisions we make.
    • We do not accept consultant fees or honoraria from sponsors of research that we conduct, unless there is a very clear and marked separation of content between the sponsored research and the consultant activities.
    • We do not accept honoraria or other financial benefit from a commercial concern for teaching, providing continuing education, or advocating institutional purchase or use of the concern’s products, unless there is sound, peer-reviewed supporting evidence for the product’s efficacy.
    • We disclose any relationship, financial or otherwise, we have or might have with a sponsor when mentioning sponsor(s) or competitor(s) products while teaching, including in continuing education programs.
    • We acknowledge all financial or other material support for work described in publication or presentation.
    • We carefully separate our personal business activities from institutional business and obligations, avoiding both conflicts of interest and conflicts of commitment.
    • In the conduct of research,
      • we follow all applicable institutional policies in application for and administration of research funds;
      • faithfully adhere to conditions under which a grant or contract is awarded for the conduct of research;
      • use best available methods in pursuit of questions, including assurance of adequacy of sample in quality and quantity, and follow acceptable scientific standards;
      • always obtain Institutional Review Board approval of conditions for use of human subjects, follow strictly provisions for obtaining and documenting informed consent, and otherwise protect human subjects, including discontinuance of trials when it becomes apparent that subjects are being harmed or that one test group is experiencing clear therapeutic advantage;
      • use animals responsibly, only when necessary, and in conformance with guidelines of the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International;
      • share with research and practicing professional colleagues new knowledge and useful materials generated, protecting only legitimate rights within institutional policy for copyright, patent, and licensing arrangements and any related contractual obligations to sponsors.
    • We know our university’s, school’s, and department’s mission and organization and know and abide by their academic, personnel, grants management, and behavioral policies, while retaining the right to advocate for their change.
    • We honor our primary responsibility to our employing institutions when conducting work outside them.
    • We recognize the effects on our institution, other faculty, and students if we are absent or separate from the institution, we follow all applicable leave policies, and we give due notice of voluntary separation.
    • We avoid giving the impression of speaking for the institution when speaking privately or giving personal opinion.
    • We participate in the affairs of the university outside our own departments and schools.
    • We respectfully and wisely use the resources made available to us by our institutions.
    • We disclose to employers any condition of impairment that restricts our abilities to carry out responsibilities.


This Code of Conduct is intended to provide general guidance to dental educational institutions in matters of values and ethical conduct of faculty. It is not intended to replace existing or future institutional guidelines. ADEA recognizes that any enforcement mechanisms for adherence to codes of conduct for faculty are the province of the individual educational institution.

*Parts of this document are modeled after analogous content in: