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The Official Symbol of Dentistry Explained

By Jill Feilmeier on July 16, 2013 in Just for Kicks

Dentist and patient conversation

The official symbol of dentistry can tell us a lot about the history of dentistry itself.

The Beginnings
The emblem is taken from the Greek god of medicine and healing, Asclepius. Ancient Greeks would use non-venomous snakes in healing rituals. Snakes would crawl around the floors where the sick and injured slept (ick!). And so evolved the rod of Asclepius, a physician's staff with a snake wrapped around it. The rod is prominent to the symbol.

The Colors
The lilac color dates back to the National Association of Dental Faculties. In 1897, the association chose purple for its emblem. Dental graduates today incorporate purple on their caps and gowns. The color conveys compassion, purpose and inspiration.

The Shape
The Greek letters Delta (∆) and Omicron (O) represent dentistry and “odont” (“having teeth”), respectively.

The Details
The design also has 32 leaves and 20 berries, which represent our 32 permanent and 20 baby teeth.

The American Dental Association (ADA) adopted the emblem as the official symbol of dentistry in 1965. And the rest is history!