Resumo BACKGROUND: Since its foundation in 1920, prevention of oral disease has been a priority for the International Association for Dental Research (IADR) and the commitment of the organisation to the subject area is clearly expressed in its mission to improve oral health worldwide. The IADR has a current global membership of almost 11,000 people who share an interest in oral and craniofacial research. CONTRIBUTION OF IADR: This paper provides an overview of the contribution of IADR to supporting research and associated activities in disease prevention, in disseminating knowledge and in advocating for better oral health for all citizens of the world. It looks back over time and summarises current supports. Two more recent initiatives in disease prevention are described in more detail, the Global Oral Health Inequalities Research Agenda (GOHIRA) and the proceedings at the 2013 World Conference on Preventive Dentistry (WCPD, 2013), a joint initiative between IADR and WHO. Through organisational structure, meetings, publications, scientific groups and networks and external relations, IADR has been at the forefront of advancing research for the prevention of oral diseases. IADR is committed to ensuring research advances get disseminated and implemented and at the same time encourages and advocates for basic, clinical and translational research across disciplines so that we may uncover the major breakthrough in prevention of oral disease.