Dentistry is the practical application of knowledge of dental science (the science of placement, arrangement, function of teeth) to human beings. A dentist is a professional practitioner of dentistry. In most countries, to become a qualified dentist, one needs several years of training in a university (usually 4-8) and some practical experience working with actual patients' dentition. The patron saint of dentists is Saint Apollonia, martyred in Alexandria by having all her teeth violently extracted, not, one would have thought, such a very desirable exempla.
Glossary of dental terms().
In Australia, graduating dentists have either a B.D.S. (Bachelor of Dental Surgery) or B.D.Sc degree (Bachelor of Dental Science).
In the United Kingdom, there is 5 years of undergraduate study before obtaining a B.D.S. degree. After graduating most dentists will enter a V.T. (vocational training) scheme, of either 1 or 2 years length, to receive their full NHS registration. In the UK a dentist must register with the G.D.C. (General Dental Council), and meet their requirements as the governing body of the profession, before being allowed to practice.
In the United States, dentists obtain either a D.D.S. or D.M.D. degree after 4 years of postgraduate education. (That is, another 4 on top of the 4 years of an undergraduate college.)
There are nine dental specialties recognized by the American Dental Association and require 2-6 years of further formal university training after dental school. The specialties are orthodontics (straightening of teeth), oral and maxillofacial surgery (extractions and facial surgery), pedodontics (treatment for children), periodontics (treatment of gum disease), prosthodontics (replacement of missing facial anatomy by prostheses such as dentures, bridges and dental implants), endodontics (root canal therapy), dental public health (study of dental epidemiology and social health policies), oral and maxillofacial radiology and pathology (study of oral and dentally related diseases). Specialists in these fields are designated registrable (U.S. "Board Eligible") and warrant exclusive titles such as orthodontist, oral surgeon, pedodontist, periodontist, or prosthodontist upon satisfying certain local (U.S. "Board Certified") registry requirements.
Other dental education exists where no post-graduate formal university training is required: cosmetic dentistry, dental implant, temporal-mandibular joint therapy . These usually require the attendance of one or more "hotel courses" that typically last for one to several days. There are restrictions on allowing these dentists to call themselves specialists in these fields. The specialist titles are registrable titles and controlled by the local dental licensing bodies.
Forensic odontology consists of the gathering and use of dental evidence in law. This may be performed by any dentist with experience or training in this field. The function of the forensic dentist is primarily documentation and verification of identity.
Dentistry In India
In 2001, archaeologists studying the remains of two men from Mehrgarh, Pakistan, made the startling discovery that the people of Indus Valley Civilization, even from the early Harappan periods (circa 3300 BC), had knowledge of medicine and dentistry! The physical anthropologist that carried out the examinations, Professor Andrea Cucina from the University of Missouri-Columbia, made the discovery when he was cleaning the teeth from one of the men. See Indus Valley Civilization: Science.
Today, Indian dentists must earn the Bachelor of Dental Surgery degree (B.D.S.), which requires four years of study and one year of internship. This degree is overseen by the Dental Council of India. In most states, one has to appear for an entrance test conducted by the Directorate of Medical Education, whereas some autonomous universities conduct their own entrance tests.
Dentistry in Canada
Canadian dentistry is overseen by the Canadian Dental Association , while specialization is overseen by the Royal College of Dentists. Today, Canada has about 16,000 dentists. Canadian dentistry is not publicly run (see Medicare (Canada)); only children and the elderly can have free dental care. Other Canadians are mostly covered by workplace dental plans, but many have to pay out of pocket.
For most of the early colonial period dentistry was a rare and unusual practice in Canada. In severe situations, barbers or blacksmiths would pull a tooth, but for many years Canada lagged behind European advances. The first dentists in Canada were United Empire Loyalists who fled the American Revolution. The first recorded dentist in Canada was a Mr. Hume who advertised in a Halifax newspaper in 1814.
During the first half of the 19th century, dentistry expanded rapidly. In 1867 the Ontario Dental Association was formed and in 1868 they founded Canada's first dental school in Toronto, the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario . The University of Toronto agreed to be affiliated with the dental school. As time passed, other Canadian universities also created dentistry programmes.
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Canadian dentistry schools
Dentistry in Hong Kong
The longest record for such ongoing and routine training and qualifying requirement for dental specialties in the world exists in Hong Kong where 6 years of pre-specialty, formal training and supervised practice are prescribed. It is uncertain if trainees there are more intellectually challenged than those in, say, North America, Australia or the United Kingdom where the specialty route would only take 2-3 years. It is accepted that only after 6 years of such training would the trainees achieve an equivalent level of professional competence to that attained by their counterparts in the western world.
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Last updated: 10-23-2005 00:00:53