The ADA Seal of Acceptance: Everything You Need to Know

The ADA Seal of Acceptance: Everything You Need to Know

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ADA Seal of Acceptance Toothpaste on Brush
©Rasulov/Shutterstock.com

The American Dental Association’s Seal of Acceptance can be found on many dental products ranging from denture adhesives to toothpaste.  There are over 300 products that currently carry the ADA Seal of Acceptance.

ADA Seal - Accepted by The American Dental Association
The ADA Seal of Acceptance

The ADA Seal of Acceptance was started in 1930 to help consumers find out what products actually are effective at doing what they claim to do.

Old Toothbrush Advertisement from 1913
An Old Toothbrush Advertisement

At that time there were lots of new products being developed.  Many of the products claimed to do everything from cleaning your teeth to making you look 20 years younger.  The ADA created the seal to allow consumers to see that the claims on seal-awarded products had been validated by research and testing.

The ADA Seal of Acceptance is not a government program, it is run by the American Dental Association.  In fact, in 1984 President Ronald Reagan praised the ADA Seal program by giving the ADA a certificate of commendation.  Not all industries are able to regulate themselves so carefully without necessitating the creation of a government oversight agency.

How Does a Product Receive the ADA Seal of Acceptance?

In order for a product to receive the ADA Seal of Acceptance, it has to undergo lots of testing to make sure that it actually does what it says it will do.

The company that makes the product must submit the product information insert, ingredient lists, results of the research supporting the products effectiveness, provide evidence of good manufacturing processes, submit all packaging and advertising information about the product to the American Dental Association.

The ADA will then review the pertinent information.  Here is what the ADA has to say about the process:

More than 125 consultants, including members of the ADA’s Council on Scientific Affairs and ADA staff scientists, review and declare oral care products safe, effective and worthy of the ADA Seal. The consultants represent all fields relevant to evaluating dental products, including dental materials, microbiology, pharmacology, toxicology and chemistry. In some instances, the ADA may conduct or ask the company to conduct additional testing. Only after a product has demonstrated its safety and effectiveness will the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs award the Seal to that product.

You can view a complete list of the ADA Seal of Acceptance testing criteria on the ADA’s website.

How is the ADA Seal Different from the FDA Approved Seal?

FDA SealIf a product is FDA approved, it doesn’t mean that it is effective for dental use.  It simply means that the company has obtained permission from the FDA to manufacture and sell the product in the United States.

The ADA Seal of Acceptance on the other hand is much more comprehensive than the FDA seal of approval and actually tests the product to ensure that it does what it claims to do.

How to Find Products that are ADA Seal Accepted

There is a simple search form that you can use on the American Dental Association’s website to search for ADA-accepted products.

The following types of products can all carry the ADA Seal, provided the manufacturer has applied for it:

  • Artificial Saliva
  • Chewing Gum
  • Denture Adherents
  • Denture Cleansers
  • Floss and Interdental Cleaners
  • Mouth Rinses
  • Toothbrushes
  • Toothpaste

Is a Product Harmful If It Doesn’t Have the ADA Seal?

There are many dental products that do not contain the ADA Seal of Acceptance.  This does not necessarily mean that they are bad.  They could be good products, but perhaps the manufacturer didn’t have the money to go through the process of obtaining the seal.  Perhaps the company doesn’t think that they need the ADA Seal to sell their product.

It could also be a “homeopathic” product that makes claims that may not be scientifically sound.  These products cannot obtain the ADA Seal of Acceptance because claims have to be backed up by scientific evidence.

I’m sure there are many more reasons why a product may not have the ADA Seal.  However, if a product is harmful, it will usually be forced off the market by a governmental regulatory agency.

ADA Seal of AcceptanceUPDATE: 3/28/2011

Here is a version of the ADA Seal that has been used as recently as 2006.  You may still see it around, so I figured that I would keep it here for informational purposes.

Note that this is simply to illustrate what the ADA Seal of Acceptance looks like, so you can make more informed choices as a consumer.

The ADA does not endorse this page and is not affiliated with Oral Answers in any way.

Do you have any questions about the ADA Seal of Acceptance?  Leave a comment below!

17 COMMENTS

    • Hi nyscof – I am not sure what the exact fee is. I know that many times the ADA needs to perform testing and they can’t make it free or else everyone would submit their product to get the ADA seal of acceptance.

      Here’s what the ADA site has to say about how products are evaluated:

      More than 125 consultants, including members of the ADA’s Council on Scientific Affairs and ADA staff scientists, review and declare oral care products safe, effective and worthy of the ADA Seal. The consultants represent all fields relevant to evaluating dental products, including dental materials, microbiology, pharmacology, toxicology and chemistry. In some instances, the ADA may conduct or ask the company to conduct additional testing. Only after a product has demonstrated its safety and effectiveness will the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs award the Seal to that product.

      I hope that helps! Thanks for your question.

    • Hi Jessica – To be honest, I doubt many people do check for the ADA seal on dental products. However, many companies are willing to invest a lot of energy and resources into getting the ADA seal on their packaging, so it must add some credibility to the product.

      Also, I would imagine that consumers check for the ADA seal a lot more often when they are in dollar stores, due to the questionable quality of the toothpaste there a few years ago.

      Thanks for your comment! By the way, do you ever look at the ADA seal?

  1. Hi Tom,
    Thanks for the quick response! Actually I do but only because I’m in dental hygiene school. But before that no. lol
    What state are you attending dental school in?

    • Hi Jessica – I’m the same, I never really started noticing those types of dental things until I really knew that I wanted to go to dental school.

      I’m from Michigan, but my wife’s from New Hampshire. Right now we’re in the northeastern United States. I try to remain semi-anonymous because I don’t want anyone to think that this blog is affiliated with my dental school at all – it’s just something I started to help me learn more about everyday dentistry.

  2. I remember a news article about toothpaste, such as Crest, Colgate etc, being made somewhere and did NOT have the ADA seal. I unknowingly purchased one of these products without the seal and only realized when I noticed a slight difference when brushing. I was not happy as I bought this product at a reputable store, assuming that I wouldn’t have to double check their products. I have searched the internet for this article but can not locate it, can you tell me about this, why some Colgate/Crest products do NOT have the seal?
    THANK YOU!
    Annie

    • Hi Annie – I hadn’t heard of this and unfortunately couldn’t find anything about it on the internet. Was it talking about dollar store toothpastes made in foreign countries?

      Maybe someone searching for this same thing will find this page eventually and leave a comment for us with the answer.

      • Hi Tom,
        Thanks for getting back to me. No, it did not specify the stores. I actually bought mine at a warehouse club. So, it appears that (probably) a majority of stores sell the toothpaste that does not have the ADA seal.
        I will keep searching too.

        Thank you!
        Annie

        • A theory on this may be that since getting the ADA seal costs money, certain brands may introduce new types of toothpaste to the market without the seal, then if they end up selling a lot the companies decide to invest in getting the ADA seal. Just a guess, Annie. Hopefully we’ll figure it out!

  3. Hi Tom,

    I think you have the ADA Seal logos mixed up. The one at the top of the article is the newer one. Check the ADA website.

    I enjoyed reading your blog!
    Debbie

    • Thanks Debbie! I hadn’t realized that it was actually the older one. I did find some information on the ADA’s website where they still use that logo, but it looks like it was copyrighted in 2006, so I guess they changed the look of the seal sometime between 2006 and 2010.

      Thanks again for the correction – I updated the article to simply say that the blue logo is a version that has been used in the past.

  4. Hi Tom
    Do you know how long amalgam manufacturers were allowed to carry the ADA seal of acceptance ?
    or what year the ADA took away the seal from amalgam manufacturers ?

    Does it seem odd that if the seal has such strict requirements of safety and testing that the ADA would produce the documentation from amalgam manufacturers showing safety (that they were supposed to submit in order to get the seal).

    After reading the amalgam MSDS, I’m confused as to how amalgam manufacturers ever had the seal in the first place.

    thanks for any insights you may be able to offer

    • Hi M.E. – I am not sure for how long amalgam manufacturers had the ADA seal. To be honest, I never knew that they did have the ADA seal.

      I know that the ADA stopped offering the seal to dentist-dispensed teeth whitening kits a few years ago. I believe that the rationale for this was because the ADA Seal is meant to be oriented more towards products that consumers purchase over the counter – not products that dentists purchase (such as amalgam and professional teeth whitening kits for patients.)

      My guess is that this is why the ADA took away the seal.

      As far as the safety and effectiveness of amalgam fillings, they are safe and they last much longer than tooth-colored fillings.

      Due to the mercury, I do doubt that amalgam would be approved by the FDA if it tried to come onto the market today. It was kind of grandfathered in, due to its excellent track-record of safety.

      I hope that helps. Thanks for your comment!

  5. how come only colgate total has ada seal? Does this mean other Colgate toothpastes should not be used? Thank you, Helene Challis

    • Hi Helene – As far as toothpastes go, many of them have pretty much the same formulations. Since companies have to pay for the ADA Seal for each different type of toothpaste they sell, it would quickly get expensive.

      My guess is that the marketing department at Colgate simply tests out certain toothpastes. If the toothpaste is successful and it seems like it will be profitable, then Colgate puts down the money for the seal. Just a guess, and I could be wrong.

      I’ll look into this more and hopefully get some more answers!

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