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Home  Dentistry Articles  Dentistry

Dentistry

Dentistry is the practical application of knowledge of dental science (the science of placement, arrangement, function of teeth and their supporting bones and soft tissues) 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.

Specialties

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 (the study and radiologic interpretation of oral and maxillofacial diseases), and oral and maxillofacial pathology (study, diagnosis, and often the treatment of oral and maxillofacial 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.

History

Prehistory

In 2001 archaeologists studying the remains of two men from Mehrgarh, Pakistan, made the discovery that the people of Indus Valley Civilization, even from the early Harappan periods (c. 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 History of medicine).

Some information contained in the Edwin Smith Papyrus dates as early as 3000 BC and includes the treatment of several dental ailments . The Ebers papyrus also discusses similar treatments . Examining the remains of some ancient Egyptians and Greco-Romans reveal early attempts at dental prosthetics and surgery .

For more information on the ancient history of dentistry refer to the Indian Dental Association's History of Dentistry.

Dentistry in Australia

In Australia, graduating dentists earn either a B.D.S. (Bachelor of Dental Surgery) or B.D.Sc (Bachelor of Dental Science) degree.

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.

Visit Job Futures.ca for info on dentistry & similar careers.

Canadian dentistry schools

  • University of Toronto (1868)
  • McGill University (1905)
  • Université de Montréal (1905)
  • Dalhousie University (1908)
  • University of Alberta (1923)
  • University of Manitoba (1958
  • University of British Columbia (1964)
  • University of Western Ontario (1966)
  • University of Saskatchewan (1968)
  • Laval University (1971)

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 5 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 5 years of such training would the trainees achieve an equivalent level of professional competence to that attained by their counterparts in the western world.

Dentistry In India

Modern 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 the United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, dentists complete 5 years of undergraduate study to earn 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 National Health Service registration. Dentists 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.

Dentistry in the United States

In the United States, dentists earn either a D.D.S. (Doctor of Dental Surgery) or D.M.D.(Doctor of Dental Medicine) degree after 4 years of postgraduate college education which follows 4 years of an undergraduate college education. The degrees D.D.S. and D.M.D. require equivalent education and the professional practice is identical.

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