On October 13, 1955, a small organization with ambitious ideas held its inaugural session in Tokyo, Japan, attended by 32 delegates from Japan, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaya (made up of dentists from Singapore and Malaysia), Thailand, South Vietnam, Hong Kong and the Republic of China. These 8 country representatives decided to form the Asia Dental Congress (the forerunner of the Asia Pacific Dental Federation) and the meeting in Tokyo became the first Congress. Owing to the vision of these 32 founding dentists, the organization grew steadily.
The 2nd Congress was held in Manila in 1958. By the 3rd congress in 1961, again held in Tokyo, the organization became officially affiliated with the World Dental Federation which at that time was known by its French name, Federation Dentaire Internationale (FDI).
By the 5th congress which was held in Seoul in 1967, some 12 years later, it was officially named the Asia Pacific Dental Federation with a new constitution reflecting its regional representation.
Australia and New Zealand became its 10th and 11th member respectively.
Due mainly to its regional outlook, the APDF became effectively the Regional Organisation of FDI, hence Asia Pacific Dental Federation/Asia Pacific Regional Organisation (APDF/APRO). The official meeting of delegates in 1967, after some debate, decided on this double name rather than changing it to Asian Pacific Regional Organisation only. It wanted to reflect and retain its original objectives of representing this vast Asia Pacific region where two thirds of humanity lives and, at the same time, be the official regional representative of FDI. The double name reflects its commitment to the development of dentistry, i.e. dental health and education, in this region as its top most priority.
The Federation steadily grew with Congresses being held approximately every 3 years. Getting member countries to host the congress was a daunting task and the intervals between congresses had to be stretched out. The record-breaking success of the 10th Congress held in Singapore in 1981, however, changed all that and the Asia Pacific Dental Congress became a major dental event in the Asia Pacific Dental calendar.
The 10th Congress recorded the participation of 1,780 delegates from 34 countries and a large dental trade exhibition called “Expodent Asia 81” with 168 international from 19 countries in a floor space of 55,000 sq. feet. (approx. 5,100 sqm). It attracted 2,300 trade visitors. It was such a resounding success and changed the outlook of the organization with many countries now wanting to host the Congress. From then on, the APD Congresses really took off and today congresses alongside a trade exhibition are held yearly in member countries with the next 4 country hosts chosen in advance.
With the increasing and changing demands in the region APDF/APRO has created 4 important standing commissions which provide up-to-date information on most aspects of dentistry. The four important commissions of the Federation are: Commission on Public Dental Health, Commission on Oral Diseases, Commission on Dental Education, and Commission on Defence Forces Dentistry. These four commissions do a great deal of work each year on their respective areas. They hold seminars during the Asia Pacific Dental Congresses and provide useful information and reports on various aspects of dental health, dental education and dentistry on a regional perspective.