Home Dentistry Articles 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.
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.
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
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
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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
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.