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A dentist (seated) treating a patient with the help of an assistant (standing).
CompetenciesBiomedical knowledge, surgical dexterity, critical thinking, analytical skills, professionalism, management skills, and communication
Education required

A dentist, also known as a dental surgeon, is a medical professional who specializes in dentistry, the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases and conditions of the oral cavity. The dentist's supporting team aids in providing oral health services. The dental team includes dental assistants, dental hygienists, dental technicians, and sometimes dental therapists.



Middle Ages

In China as well as France, the first people to perform dentistry were barbers. They have been categorized into 2 distinct groups: guild of barbers and lay barbers. The first group, the Guild of Barbers, was created to distinguish more educated and qualified dental surgeons from lay barbers. Guild barbers were trained to do complex surgeries. The second group, the lay barbers, were qualified to perform regular hygienic services such as shaving and tooth extraction as well as basic surgery. However, in 1400, France made decrees prohibiting lay barbers from practicing all types of surgery. In Germany as well as France from 1530 to 1575 publications completely devoted to dentistry were being published. Ambroise Paré, often known as the Father of Surgery, published his own work about the proper maintenance and treatment of teeth. Ambroise Paré was a French barber surgeon who performed dental care for multiple French monarchs. He is often credited with having raised the status of barber surgeons. [1] [2]

Modern dentistry

A man being treated by dentists Man At Dentist.JPG
A man being treated by dentists
A modern dental treatment in Lappeenranta, Finland Armilan hammashoitola, Lappeenranta.jpg
A modern dental treatment in Lappeenranta, Finland
German dental practice in a spherical projection, 2019
(view as a 360deg interactive panorama) Zahnarztpraxis Behandlungsraum 2019.jpg
German dental practice in a spherical projection, 2019
( view as a 360° interactive panorama )

Pierre Fauchard of France is often referred to as the "father of modern dentistry" for being the first to publish a scientific textbook (1728) on the techniques and practices of dentistry. [3] Over time, trained dentists immigrated from Europe to the Americas to practice dentistry, and by 1760, America had its own native born practicing dentists. Newspapers were used at the time to advertise and promote dental services. In America from 1768 to 1770 the first application of dentistry to verify forensic cases was being pioneered; this was called forensic dentistry. With the rise of dentists there was also the rise of new methods to improve the quality of dentistry. These new methods included the spinning wheel to rotate a drill and chairs made specifically for dental patients. [4]

In the 1840s the world's first dental school and national dental organization were established. Along with the first dental school came the establishment of the Doctor of Dental Surgery degree, often referred to as a DDS degree. In response to the rise in new dentists as well as dentistry techniques, the first dental practice act was established to regulate dentistry. In the United States, the First Dental Practice Act required dentists to pass each specific states medical board exam in order to practice dentistry in that particular state. However, because the dental act was rarely enforced, some dentists did not obey the act. From 1846 to 1855 new dental techniques were being invented such as the use of ester anesthesia for surgery, and the cohesive gold foil method which enabled gold to be applied to a cavity. The American Dental Association was established in 1859 after a meeting with 26 dentists. Around 1867, the first university associated dental school was established, Harvard Dental School. Lucy Hobbs Taylor was the first woman to earn a dental degree.

In the 1880s, tube toothpaste was created which replaced the original forms of powder or liquid toothpaste. New dental boards, such as the National Association of Dental Examiners, were created to establish standards and uniformity among dentists. [4] In 1887 the first dental laboratory was established; dental laboratories are used to create dentures and crowns that are specific to each patient. [5] In 1895 the dental X-ray was discovered by a German physicist, Wilhelm Röntgen. [6]

Mary Crutchfield Thompson was one of the first Black women to graduate from Tufts University Dental School, and the first to practice dentistry in the Boston area. Mary Crutchfield Thompson (13270319163).jpg
Mary Crutchfield Thompson was one of the first Black women to graduate from Tufts University Dental School, and the first to practice dentistry in the Boston area.

In the 20th century, new dental techniques and technology were invented such as: the porcelain crowns (1903), Novocain (a local anesthetic) 1905, precision cast fillings (1907), nylon toothbrushes (1938), water fluoridation (1945), fluoride toothpaste (1950), air driven dental tools (1957), lasers (1960), electric toothbrushes (1960), and home tooth bleaching kits (1989) were invented. Inventions such as the air driven dental tools ushered in a new high-speed dentistry. [4] [7]


A dentist in Finland treating a child Dentistpatient.jpg
A dentist in Finland treating a child
Dentist treating an old man, Argentina DENTISTREATINGOLDMAN.jpg
Dentist treating an old man, Argentina

By nature of their general training, a licensed dentist can carry out most dental treatments such as restorative (dental restorations, crowns, bridges), orthodontics (braces), prosthodontic (dentures, crown/bridge), endodontic (root canal) therapy, periodontal (gum) therapy, and oral surgery (extraction of teeth), as well as performing examinations, taking radiographs (x-rays) and diagnosis. Additionally, dentists can further engage in oral surgery procedures such as dental implant placement. Dentists can also prescribe medications such as antibiotics, fluorides, pain killers, local anesthetics, sedatives/hypnotics and any other medications that serve in the treatment of the various conditions that arise in the head and neck.

All DDS and DMD degree holders are legally qualified to perform a number of more complex procedures such as gingival grafts, bone grafting, sinus lifts, and implants, as well as a range of more invasive oral and maxillofacial surgery procedures, though many choose to pursue residencies or other post-doctoral education to augment their abilities. A few select procedures, such as the administration of General anesthesia, legally require postdoctoral training in the US. While many oral diseases are unique and self-limiting, poor conditions in the oral cavity can lead to poor general health and vice versa; notably, there is a significant link between periodontal and cardiovascular disease. [8] Conditions in the oral cavity may also be indicative of other systemic diseases such as osteoporosis, diabetes, AIDS, and various blood diseases, including malignancies and lymphoma.

Several studies have suggested that dentists and dental students are at high risk of burnout. During burnout, dentists experience exhaustion, alienate from work and perform less efficiently. [9] A systemic study identified risk factors associated with this condition such as practitioner's young age, personality type, gender, status of education, high job strain and / or working hours, and the burden of clinical degrees requisites. The authors of this study concluded that intervention programs at an early stage during the undergraduate level may provide practitioners with a good strategy to prepare for / cope with this condition. [10]


Depending on the country, all dentists are required to register with their national or local health board, regulators and a professional indemnity insurance, in order to practice dentistry. In the UK, dentists are required to register with the General Dental Council. In Australia, it is the Dental Board of Australia, while in the United States, dentists are registered according to the individual state board. The main role of a dental regulator is to protect the public by ensuring only qualified dental practitioners are registered, handle any complaints or misconduct and develop national guidelines and standard for dental practitioners to follow. [11]

List of Specialties

For many countries, after satisfactory completion of post-graduate training, dental specialists are required to join a specialist board or list, in order to use the title 'specialist'.

United States

In the US, dental specialties are recognised by the American Dental Association (ADA) or the American Board of Dental Specialties (ABDS) [12] Currently, the ADA lists twelve dental specialties, who are recognised by the National Commission on Recognition of Dental Specialties and Certifying Boards, [13] while the ABDS recognises four dental specialty boards. [14]

List of Dental Specialties under the ADA: [13]

List of Dental Specialties under the ABDS: [14]

Specialists in these fields are designated "registrable" (in the United States, "board eligible") and warrant exclusive titles such as dentist anesthesiologist, orthodontist, oral and maxillofacial surgeon, endodontist, pediatric dentist, periodontist, or prosthodontist upon satisfying certain local accreditation requirements (U.S., "Board Certified")

United Kingdom

In the UK, the specialties are recognised by the General Dental Council (GDC). Currently the GDC lists 13 different dental specialties: [16]

European Union

European Union legislation recognises two dental specialities: Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (A degree in dentistry and medicine being compulsory) [17] and Orthodontics.[ citation needed ]

See also

Related Research Articles

Dentistry Branch of medicine

Dentistry, also known as dental medicine and oral medicine, is a branch of medicine that consists of the study, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases, disorders, and conditions of the oral cavity, commonly in the dentition but also the oral mucosa, and of adjacent and related structures and tissues, particularly in the maxillofacial area. Although primarily associated with teeth among the general public, the field of dentistry or dental medicine is not limited to teeth but includes other aspects of the craniofacial complex including the temporomandibular joint and other supporting, muscular, lymphatic, nervous, vascular, and anatomical structures.

Cosmetic dentistry is generally used to refer to any dental work that improves the appearance of teeth, gums and/or bite. It primarily focuses on improvement in dental aesthetics in color, position, shape, size, alignment and overall smile appearance. Many dentists refer to themselves as "cosmetic dentists" regardless of their specific education, specialty, training, and experience in this field. This has been considered unethical with a predominant objective of marketing to patients. The American Dental Association does not recognize cosmetic dentistry as a formal specialty area of dentistry. However, there are still dentists that promote themselves as cosmetic dentists.

Dental surgery

Dental surgery is any of a number of medical procedures that involve artificially modifying dentition; in other words, surgery of the teeth, gums and jaw bones.

Prosthodontics, also known as dental prosthetics or prosthetic dentistry, is the area of dentistry that focuses on dental prostheses. It is one of 12 dental specialties recognized by the American Dental Association (ADA), Royal College of Surgeons of England, Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland, Royal College of Surgeons of Glasgow, Royal College of Dentists of Canada, and Royal Australasian College of Dental Surgeons. The ADA defines it as "the dental specialty pertaining to the diagnosis, treatment planning, rehabilitation and maintenance of the oral function, comfort, appearance and health of patients with clinical conditions associated with missing or deficient teeth or oral and maxillofacial tissues using biocompatible substitutes."

There are a number of professional degrees in dentistry offered by dental schools in various countries around the world.

UCLA School of Dentistry Medical school in Los Angeles, California, United States

The UCLA School of Dentistry is the dental school of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) located in the Center for Health Sciences building in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, United States. The school has several educational and training programs, conducts oral and dental health research, and offers affordable dental care at three locations: Westwood, Venice, and Inglewood. The school also participates in several outreach endeavors, including numerous health fairs during the year, STEM pipeline programs and provides dental care for underserved populations in the region. The School of Dentistry is considered among the nation's best research-intensive dental schools.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to dentistry and oral health:

Dental education throughout the world

Dentistry throughout the world is practiced differently, and training in dentistry varies as well.

Restorative dentistry is the study, diagnosis and integrated management of diseases of the teeth and their supporting structures and the rehabilitation of the dentition to functional and aesthetic requirements of the individual. Restorative dentistry encompasses the dental specialties of endodontics, periodontics and prosthodontics and its foundation is based upon how these interact in cases requiring multifaceted care. This may require the close input from other dental specialties such as orthodontics, paediatric dentistry and special care dentistry, as well as surgical specialties such as oral and maxillofacial surgery.

University of Otago Faculty of Dentistry is one of the faculties of the University of Otago.

Oral and maxillofacial pathology refers to the diseases of the mouth, jaws and related structures such as salivary glands, temporomandibular joints, facial muscles and perioral skin. The mouth is an important organ with many different functions. It is also prone to a variety of medical and dental disorders.

Pediatric dentistry

Pediatric dentistry is the branch of dentistry dealing with children from birth through adolescence. The specialty of pediatric dentistry is recognized by the American Dental Association, Royal College of Dentists of Canada, and Royal Australasian College of Dental Surgeons.

Meharry Medical College School of Dentistry

The School of Dentistry is a dental school within Meharry Medical College located in the United States city of Nashville. The school is one of the dental schools in the state of Tennessee.

The practice of dentistry in the United States is overseen by several agencies, including the American Dental Association, the Commission on Dental Accreditation, and the regional boards. Ultimate licensure is the responsibility of individual states. There are roughly 190,000 practicing dentists in the United States.

In the United States and Canada, there are twelve recognized dental specialties in which some dentists choose to train and practice, in addition to or instead of general dentistry. In the United Kingdom and Australia, there are thirteen.

Nishtar Dental College Pakistani college

Nishtar Dental College is a dental school and treatment facility located in Multan, Punjab, Pakistan.

Manipal College of Dental Sciences, Mangalore

Manipal College of Dental Sciences, Mangalore was founded in 1987 and recognised by the Dental Council of India in 1992 and by the Malaysian Dental Council in 2003. It was certified for ISO9001:2000 in 2006 and was re-certified for ISO9001:2008 in 2009. The college is a part of Manipal University. The college offers undergraduate (BDS) and postgraduate (MDS) programme.

Dr. R. Ahmed Dental College and Hospital Government dental college in India

The Dr. R. Ahmed Dental College and Hospital is a Government dental college located in Sealdah, Kolkata, in the Indian state of West Bengal. It is affiliated to the West Bengal University of Health Sciences and is recognised by Dental Council of India. It teaches Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) and Master of Dental Surgery (MDS) courses in various specialty.

Tooth pathology Medical condition

Tooth pathology is any condition of the teeth that can be congenital or acquired. Sometimes a congenital tooth diseases are called tooth abnormalities. These are among the most common diseases in humans The prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of these diseases are the base to the dentistry profession, in which are dentists and dental hygienists, and its sub-specialties, such as oral medicine, oral and maxillofacial surgery, and endodontics. Tooth pathology is usually separated from other types of dental issues, including enamel hypoplasia and tooth wear.


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