A-dec Heritage - 50 Years Strong

Trust based on genuine care


A-dec co-founder Joan Austin liked to say, “Listening and watching are so much more important than talking.”

Joan's words help explain the philosophy behind A-dec product development and the emphasis placed on understanding the world of dentistry in order to improve it.

This understanding is a result of listening to dentists and dental educators for the past 50 years.

A-dec and Dentists

A-dec co-founder Ken Austin knew that each successful product required a tremendous amount of perspective from the dentist.

Ken worked in partnership with dentists throughout the years to develop products that revolutionized the way dentists care for their patients.

In addition to the world's first successful air-powered saliva ejector, Ken Austin inventions established what today is known as "sit-down dentistry."

A-dec dental units were the first units to position instrumentation within comfortable reach of a seated dentist. Previously, dentists would stand to perform procedures. Today's sit-down dentistry has many ergonomic benefits and has extended career length for many dentists.

A-dec and Dental Schools

A-dec has collaborated with some of the greatest minds in dental education for the past 40 years.

In 1970, A-dec developed the Dec-Trol, a portable unit in a case designed specifically for students so it could be carried to class.

In 1994, A-dec's long-time relationship with the University of Michigan School of Dentistry led to the industry's original Radius delivery system. This ambidextrous solution accommodates both left- and right-handed students so they can use the same operatory.

Today, the A-dec Simulator combines decades of dental insight with advanced design to ease every student's transition from simulation lab to clinic.

50 years strong


When you truly care, something interesting happens. It becomes your passion. You find yourself taking the initiative and giving it your all. Fearless commitment. A sense of purpose. All that inspiration to get it right helps explain the values shared by A-dec founders Ken and Joan Austin.

It all started a half-century ago. While on a picnic, a barely-employed Ken mentioned to his wife Joan how air-vacuum technology could be used to create a simpler and more compact oral evacuator device.

There could be a business in it, Ken figured. If they dreamed big, maybe one day they could support the family.

With the highspeed air drill revolutionizing dentistry in the mid-1950s, the oral evacuation equipment of the day fell quickly behind the times. Evacuators were clumsy, constructed with pieced-together components, and couldn't suction fast enough.

Seeing the opportunity, Joan was immediately intrigued by Ken's idea. She encouraged him. "Why wait?" she said. "We'll eat bread and beans if we have to."

By the next day Ken was machining a model for his oral evacuator prototype. In Ken's mind, his air-vacuum system (AVS) would be more reliable and less expensive than what was currently available.

Within months—on Nov. 9, 1964—the country's largest dental manufacturing company S.S. White agreed to distribute the "AVS #1" by the Austin Dental Equipment Company or—as Joan would have it—A-dec.

Three months later, the Philadelphia company sent a check to A-dec in the amount of $10,000.

What started out as a way for Ken to stay employed turned into an impossible success story that combines family with a passion for getting it right. The Austins' vision not only helped revolutionize the world of dentistry. It would also create a legacy to make the best better. One solution at a time.

Please join us in celebrating 50 years of quality through caring.