Dental conferences offer ideal opportunities to gather with colleagues from around the region or the world. Conference programs typically include continuing education topics and information about what trends are changing the industry. These events also provide unique opportunities for networking with colleagues, seeing presentations from dental experts, and serving as dental trade shows that demonstrate the latest products.
Features of Dental Seminars, Symposia & Conferences
Dental conferences can be regional, national, or international. They provide several features, including:
- Opportunities to learn new techniques and earn continuing education credits
- Chances to see the latest dental products
- Professional and social networking
- Exceptional speakers
- Social events that provide a chance to meet new people
Choosing the Best Dental Conference
Because taking time away from your busy practice isn't easy, choose which annual conference is best for you by researching ahead of time. Consider your primary goal in attending the conference: networking for career growth, learning about new advances, connecting with colleagues, getting CE credits, or something else.
While most conferences provide a mix of learning, socializing, and networking, each one typically emphasizes slightly different things. Here are some strategies for choosing which conference will best help you meet your goals this year.
Consider the focus. Some conferences target different practice areas, such as pediatric dentistry, oral surgery, forensic dentistry, or oral pathology. Honing in on your specialty or practice area could open you up to better networking and learning opportunities for your skillset.
Evaluate the learning opportunities at the conference. You want to learn from experts in the field, such as national experts, seasoned dentists, and those using the latest technology. Review the online program for each conference and then research the speakers' credentials to ensure you'll gain the latest and most comprehensive continuing education.
Evaluate the networking potential. You’ll want to consider the credentials of the attendees. You can do this by reviewing the speaker list and the sponsor list. The dental conference should have a Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn page, and you can look at its followers for a sense of who is attending. And ask your current networking circle if they’ll be attending.
Another good way to see whether the conference will be a helpful networking opportunity is to look at the agenda. Are there group functions (aka networking events) planned? Are breaks built into the schedule?
Review the location. Can you easily attend all the conference events without needing a car? For example, are the hotel and events within walking distance or accessible by shuttle? Also, many people like to attend conferences in or near cities they'd like to visit. If location is important for you, you might focus first on industry events in a particular region.
Remember that attending a dental conference annually is critical to helping you learn new techniques, keep up with the big news in the industry, and build relationships with other professionals in the dental field.
How to Prepare for a Dental Conference
You'll want to prepare to get the most benefit from attending the conference.
Register early. Many conferences offer discounts for those who register early. Depending on the event, you may not always know the speakers attending, but committing early also allows you to block off your time away from the office and schedule any necessary replacements.
Secure lodging & transportation. You can also save by booking your hotel early. Many conferences make arrangements with hotels for a certain number of rooms at a discounted conference rate. The rooms are available on a first-come, first-served basis. If you plan to fly, you may also save by booking airfare early. If you’re driving, you can save by carpooling with other members of your team or other professionals who are attending from your area.
Take a colleague. You may get more out of the conference if you take a colleague with you. For example, having a friend at networking events can make approaching others less awkward. Also, large conferences usually have many events occurring simultaneously. If several colleagues from your practice attend, they can split up and share the knowledge from each event. Cost, relevance, and logistics will be a factor in determining who to send. Sometimes, you may consider taking your entire dental team to the conference.
Decide which vendors to see. A conference presents a fantastic opportunity to see new products and decide on new opportunities your practice could add, such as dental robotics, laser dentistry (or Berxi’s dental malpractice insurance--with no membership fees needed!. However, the product exhibitions at many conferences are so extensive that you may not be able to visit every vendor. Go through the vendor list and highlight which ones appeal to you and mark where they’ll be on the floor plan.
You also might inventory your practice equipment and instruments before you attend and decide what you need. Be sure to record information about your current equipment so that you can compare it with what you see on the exhibit floor.
Also, check social media throughout the days of the conference. Often, vendors will post deals on social media.
Create a map. Many large conferences are in sprawling convention cities or spread across several buildings. Print a map or download a mapping app to your phone ahead of time so you'll know where to find your lodging. If you're driving, also be sure you identify your parking options.
Plan your itinerary. Look carefully at the conference brochure and plan which events you and your colleagues will attend. Register for those that meet your goals and at least one for personal enrichment. Don't forget to allow time for networking, socializing, and rest. Gaining too much information in a short time can be exhausting.
Pack conference essentials. You'll want to pack several essentials for your conference:
- A phone charger
- Business cards
- Water and snacks if your conference doesn't already provide them
- Comfortable, professional-looking shoes and clothes since you'll be standing or walking a lot but need to look professional too
- A notebook to jot notes in sessions to share with colleagues and remind yourself of what you learned
Five Possible Goals for a Dental Conference
Before you leave, set specific goals you’d like to meet while at the conference.
The most successful goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).
Here’s an example of five goals you might make for a dental conference:
- Develop new networking relationships with five new colleagues.
- Learn two new marketing strategies for your dental practice.
- Gain a yearly update on medical billing practices and requirements of dental insurance companies.
- Buy a new dental die and casting machine.
- Learn about two new leadership opportunities in local chapters of dental societies.
List of Conferences in 2023
(listed by date)
1. Rocky Mountain Dental Convention
Date: January 19–22
Cost: Early registration fees for members range from $0 to $359. Early fees for nonmembers are $725. Some categories have small increases for on-site registration. The courses are extra.
About/What to Expect: The Metro Denver Dental Society and Mountain West Dental Institute present this conference, a gathering of dental professionals in the Rocky Mountain region.
Speakers/Topics: Featured speakers include Kirk Behrendt, founder of ACT Dental, and Sam Strong, DDS. Thirty-two sessions are also available on-demand from January 25 to February 28.
2. The Crown Council's Annual Event
Date: January 26–28
Location: Salt Lake City
About/What to Expect: This event is a premier team-building conference for your dental staff and focuses on personal and professional wellness. It bills itself as an “experience” rather than a convention.
Speakers/Topics: This dental conference includes hands-on events to encourage collaboration and motivational talks. Presentations include Emily Cowlin, DMD, “Doctors with the Same Mindset,” and Chad Ellis, DDS, “I've Found Mentors That Matter.”
3. Yankee Dental Congress
Date: January 26–28
Cost: Some courses are included in the registration fee. Others have an additional charge.
About/What to Expect: The Yankee Dental Congress is New England's largest meeting for dental professionals and is sponsored by the Massachusetts Dental Society. It is an annual tradition for more than 25,000 dental professionals.
Speakers/Topics: This dental conference features more than 250 courses on dental topics along with hands-on education sessions. Industry-leading speakers include Lois Banta, founder of Healthcare Enterprises (teambuilding); Ryan Goslin, DDS (dental implants); Roger Hallowell, MBA, PhD (practice management); and Gigi Meinecke, RN, DMD (botox).
4. American Academy of Dental Group Practice
Date: February 2–3
Location: Las Vegas
Cost: Registration fees range from $695 to $1,045, depending on membership status and registration date.
About/What to Expect: After being derailed by COVID, this event returns this year with a theme of Building Better Groups Together. It features speakers, networking, and exhibits.
Speakers/Topics: Keynote speakers are Stanley Bergman, CEO of Henry Schein, Inc.; Scott Parazynski, MD, astronaut, and founder of Fluidity Tech; and Pat Bauer, CEO of Heartland Dental.
Twitter Handle/Hashtag: @AADGP
5. Chicago Dental Society Midwinter Meeting
Date: February 23–25
Cost: Registration is free for CDS members and up to $195 for ADA members, depending on when you register. Non-ADA members pay between $550 and $850. Registration of three people gains a fourth registration for free. Most programs are extra, but you can also opt to register for a lecture package for $285 that includes admission to lectures. However, workshops are an additional charge.
About/What to Expect: The conference promises engaging programs, exciting events, and an exhibit hall featuring technological innovations. It also has a live patient demonstration area.
Speakers/Topics: Various topics are offered for administrative and clinical staff members. Examples are “Full Mouth Implant Prosthodontics: The (Digital) Nuts and Bolts of Treatment,” “HIPAA Compliance: How Well Are You Really Protected?,” “Hackers Are After You: Protecting Yourself from Evils of the Internet,” “Dental Marketing: Best Practices Growth and Strategy Marketing,” “Oro-Facial Infections: Real Health Crisis,” and “Controversies in Restorative Dentistry.”
Twitter Handle/Hashtag: on.cds.org/Twitter
6. National Oral Health Conference
Date: April 17–19
Cost: Fees range from $845 to $1,150 for the full conference. Students pay $335 to $400.
About/What to Expect: The NOHC provides networking opportunities and continuing education. The conference is essential for those involved in public health dentistry, CHIP dental program staff, territorial dental directors, and anyone involved in the public's oral health. Indeed, the American Association of Public Health Dentistry (AAPHD) and the Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors (ASTDD) will meet in joint sessions again in 2023. Education is provided in several formats, including didactic presentations.
Speakers/Topics: Topics include “Vaccinate to Prevent: An Interprofessional Initiative to Administer HPV Vaccine for Dental Patients,” “Integrating Electronic Dental Referral Management System into School Programs to Address Disparities,” and “Alternative Dental Care Delivery Models, Public Health and Creating Optimal Oral Health for All.”
Twitter Handle/Hashtag: @AAPHDorg
7. New Orleans Dental Conference
Date: April 20–22
Location: New Orleans
Cost: Registration fees vary depending on membership status, experience, and role. New dentists can attend for free if they register early. Depending on when they register, hygienists and laboratory technicians pay between $78 and $165. An ADA dentist will pay between $165 and $245.
About/What to Expect: Volunteer dentists from the New Orleans and Louisiana Dental Association plan this convention, which features staggered continuing education. Attendees can gather up to 20 CE credits. It also features an exhibit hall.
Speakers/Topics: Topics include “Social Media & HIPAA Compliance — Simple Ways to Protect Your Practice,” “Maximum Immunity: Fortify Your Patients' Defenses!,” “Inflammation 911: The Mouth-Body-Mind Connection!,” “Safety and Simplicity in Root Canal Instrumentation and Obturation: Myths, Metal, and Motion,” and “Avoiding Failures and Resolving Aesthetic Challenges Utilizing State of the Art Digital Technology.”
8. TDA Meeting (ADA Smile Con)
Date: May 4–6
Location: San Antonio
Cost: TDA member dentists can attend for free. ADA member dentists outside of Texas pay between $150 and $175, depending on when they register. Non-ADA members pay between $750 and $850.
About/What to Expect: The Texas Dental Association sponsors this meeting, which features 42 speakers and 15 workshops.
Speakers/Topics: One featured speaker is Deana Zost, FAADOM, who will speak on “Accountability Culture: Cultivating a You-Can-Count-on-Me Team.” Another is Kevin Suzuki, DDS, who will lead a workshop on bone regeneration.
Twitter Handle/Hashtag: @TDAMeeting
9. Charter Oak Dental Meeting
Date: May 10–12
Location: Mohegan Sun Casino and Resort, Connecticut
Cost: Connecticut State Dental Association (CSDA) new dentists and students attend free. CSDA member dentists pay $65 to $75. Nonmembers pay $75 to $150. Hygienists and other dental team members pay lower rates. The conference also allows Rhode Island Dental Association members to register at member rates. Most lectures have a nominal additional fee.
About/What to Expect: This CSDA conference is billed as a world-class, must-attend event that provides superior education from leaders in the field and an exhibit hall.
Speakers/Topics: Speakers will cover a wide range of topics appropriate to many dental specialties, including oral and maxillofacial surgeons, restorative dentists, periodontists, and pediatrics.
Twitter Handle/Hashtag: @CSDAEducation
10. Pacific Northwest Dental Conference
Date: June 15–17
Cost: Pricing depends on membership and position in the firm. For example, office managers will pay $150, and dental hygienists will pay $225. Many dental lectures are included in the cost.
About/What to Expect: The Washington State Dental Association hosts the Pacific Northwest Dental Conference, which is a three-day event. Exhibits are offered for two days.
Speakers/Topics: Speakers cover various topics, including quality dental hygiene education, esthetics, restorative dentistry, pediatric dentistry, periodontics, and endodontics. Some speakers are Kathy Forbes, RDH; Marc Geissberger, DDS; and Ron Morris, DDS.
Twitter Handle/Hashtag: @TheWSDA
11. American Dental Hygienists Association Conference
Date: July 7–9
Cost: Although guests and students can pay less, those wanting CE credit will pay between $379 and $679, depending on membership status and registration date.
About/What to Expect: This conference is the largest dedicated specifically to dental hygienists. In addition to speakers, it also includes an ADHA Institute for Oral Health volunteer day, an exhibition hall, and a networking event. Hygienists can earn up to 22 CEUs.
Speakers/Topics: Topics include “Sifting Through Misinformation,” “Hindsight Is 20/20: Missing the Oral/Oropharyngeal Cancer Diagnosis,” and “Evidence-Based Dental Hygiene Practice: It's Momentous!”
Twitter Handle/Hashtag: @YourADHA
12. AGD 2023 (Academy of General Dentistry)
Date: July 19–22
Location: Las Vegas
Cost: Cost varies based on membership status and experience in the profession. It can be as much as $199 for early registration and $450 on-site. Course registration is additional.
About/What to Expect: The AGD conference describes itself as the "premier meeting for general dentistry." The AGD annual scientific session has earned a reputation for having some of the finest dental continuing education in the world. The conference offers one-hour hands-on education and clinical and practice management lectures. Attendees can apply the continuing education earned at the conference toward the AGD Fellowship and Mastership Awards.
Speakers/Topics: Courses cover a wide range of topics, including “Dental Lasers: Improving Clinical Outcomes and Growing Practice Revenue,” “Digital Dentures: Scanning, Milling, and Printing,” “Simplified Aligner Therapy for the General Practitioner Workshop,” and “The Myths and Realities of the Link Between Oral Disease and Systemic Conditions.”
Twitter Handle/Hashtag: @AGDdentist
13. National Dental Association Annual Convention
Date: July 20–23
Location: New Orleans
Cost: NDA members pay $600 to $750 depending on when they register. Non-NDA members pay $850 to $1,150, while new dentists receive a discount, paying between $400 and $500, depending on when they register.
About/What to Expect: This conference is a popular choice for those who hope to promote healthcare equity among people of color. It includes special tracks for new dentists and students. In addition to a wide range of speakers, it includes an exhibition hall and a forum for minority oral health professionals.
Speakers/Topics: Topics for 2023 have not yet been posted. However, 2022 featured speakers covered a wide range of topics including botox, treatment planning for mini-implants, hot topics in periodontics, and root canal treatments.
14. Southwest Dental Conference
Date: August 25–26
Cost: Each course or workshop requires a ticket, which ranges in price from $30 to more than $200. Costs are increased if you fail to register in advance.
About/What to Expect: The annual Southwest Dental Conference describes itself as the "premier dental conference of the Southwest." Hosted by the Dallas County Dental Society, this conference aims to feature some of the finest dental continuing education. It also has an exhibit hall with new dental equipment and technology.
Speakers/Topics: The conference includes a variety of workshops and lectures across many specialties. Examples include “Oral Surgery for the General Practitioner,” “The Exceptional Assistant,” “Tips and Tricks for Treating Kids,” “The Periodontal Co-therapist,” “Techniques for the Everyday Dentist to Increase Profitability,” and “Emerging Trends in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Oropharyngeal Cancer.” It also offers courses specifically for the new dentist.
Twitter Handle/Hashtag: @SWDentalConf
15. American College of Prosthodontists Annual Session
Date: October 25–28
Location: San Diego
Cost: Not yet available.
About/What to Expect: This is a specialized event for prosthodontists. This year's theme focuses on how to “keep the fundamentals at heart, while utilizing the latest advancements in dental technology.”
Speakers/Topics: Program Chair Dr. Ramtin Sadid-Zadeh and ACP President Dr. Gerald Grant will lead the conference discussions.
Attending a dental conference can benefit you, your staff, and your practice. And sending your staff to a dental conference is a wonderful way to show you’re invested in their future.
Remember to prepare beforehand by carefully reviewing the conference agenda and registering for those courses that will benefit you and your team the most. And upon return, be sure to hold a staff meeting to summarize the content of the learning sessions, provide information on any products that could improve practice efficiency, and discuss what was gained from the networking events. Dental conferences can get you and your colleagues excited about dentistry all over again.
Image courtesy of istock.com/sanjeri