In 1859, a group of dentists dedicated to the advancement of dentistry and the education and development of the profession met in Macon, Georgia, and formed the first state organization for dentistry. Georgia was approaching a population of nearly 1 million in a nation of 30 million, and the problems of providing adequate dental care for her people prompted the formation. At the first meeting, a Dr. Daniel S. Chase of Augusta was elected President, and an Annual Meeting was set for June 1860. After a second meeting in Savannah in 1860, the society went a nine-year hiatus due to the Civil War and Reconstruction.

Georgia was looking for new citizens to help make the state “justly deserve the name of the Empire State of the South” and things were looking up just a bit economically, although political turmoil was at its height, when the state’s dentists started reorganization of the Georgia State Dental Society in 1869. The Southern Dental Association was organized at a meeting in Atlanta on July 28, 1869, with 48 members. This organization grew rapidly and expanded outside the South as a rival of the older American Dental Association and of the still older American Dental Convention. The Southern and American Dental Associations were merged into the National Dental Association in 1897, some 14 years after the American Dental Convention had expired. The American Dental Association name was restored in 1922.

Following the organization of the Southern Dental Association, a small group of Georgia dentists remained in Atlanta to revive the state organization which had begun ten years earlier in Macon. At the preliminary meeting on July 30, 1869, Dr. W. H. Burr of Madison, who had been present and had taken an important part in the organization meeting of the Southern Dental Association two days earlier, was elected president. Dr. J.H.P. Brown was named corresponding secretary, and Dr. T.J. Crow of Macon recording secretary. No minutes of the preliminary meeting were preserved and there is no further record of action taken, except that a meeting was set for December 28, 1869, in Savannah to perfect the organization.

From humble beginnings, the Association has grown to a membership of 3,300 dentists committed to improving oral health in Georgia and continuously promoting the highest standards of dentistry through education, advocacy, and professionalism. The GDA established a professional office in Atlanta in 1975. The GDA executive staff has grown to number 12 in support of the expansion of services offered to members. The GDA is continually searching for ways to deliver improved services to members in an efficient, cost-effective, and productive manner.