Are Dentists, Doctors (Dr)?

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Dentists are not doctors in the traditional sense of the word. Although they do undergo extensive medical training so they can become proficient at treating medical issues occurring with the teeth and gums, they are not doctors of medicine (MDs). Although many dentists are entitled to use the title 'doctor' as their training results in a doctorate, the term can also apply to many other fields of study for example professors holding a PHD. Although dentists will receive some rudimentary training in the basics of medicine, this is mainly so they are able to provide emergency care if their patients react badly to anaesthetics used during dental treatments. The majority of the training dentists receive however is studying diseases and treatments for health issues occurring with the teeth and gums.

In much the same way as a medical doctor, dentists can choose to enter into a speciality in different fields of dentistry. For instance, after undergoing their general dental practitioner training, they may choose to specialise in oral surgery, Orthodontics or paediatric dentistry. Specialists are often used by general dental practitioners to refer patients who have complex needs connected to their speciality.

In order to become a dentist, you first need a degree in dentistry from an acknowledged university. Dentistry programmes tend to last five years including subjects such as pathology, anatomy, biochemistry and a range of other scientific fields. The course also involves a practical section, which ensures that trainee dentists are able to put the theory they have learned into practice. Once the trainee dentist has completed their education, they need to be registered with the General Dental Council in addition to working for a set amount of time in a dental practice. Depending on the career path the trainee wishes to take, they may need to continue their education and training, enabling them to acquire new techniques and treatments. Some dentists choose specialities and cosmetic dentistry has become increasingly popular in recent years.

Read more in the Dental Treatment Information Guide »