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What is Dentistry? 

Dentistry is a branch of medicine that deals with the evaluation, diagnosis, prevention and treatment of various diseases and disorders of mouth and adjacent areas.

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What is a Dentist?

A qualified, educated and trained person who is licensed to treat various diseases of the teeth, gums, supporting bone, mouth and adjacent areas. The dentists graduate after either 4 years or 5 years (in most European states) professional education before being able to practice dentistry independently. The dental students study Bachelors of Dental Surgery (B.D.S.) graduate course. The graduate course (B.D.S.) is known by various names in different parts of the world e.g. D.D.S., BDent, BDSc, D.M.D. (D.D.S.: Doctor of Dental Surgery, BDent: Bachelors of Dentistry, BDSc : Bachelor of Dental Science, D.M.D.: Doctor of Dental Medicine).

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The dental team:

Besides the dental surgeons, there are dental hygienists, dental assistants, dental therapists and dental technicians who comprise the dental team at any clinic or dental hospital. 

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Dental hygienists: 

Licensed professionals who can take X-rays, Fluoride appli- cation, impressions of teeth, scaling and root treatment, polish the teeth, place dressings and remove sutures. They can also give proper instructions for maintaining healthy mouth. 

Dental assistants: 

Also called as dental nurses or dental chair side assistants. They assist the dentist in performing dental procedures and must work under the dentist supervision. Procedures they are allowed to perform are reception of patients at clinic, handle and prepare dental materials to be used by dentist, take X-rays, maintain infection control standards, suction saliva and give oral hygiene instructions to patients. 

Dental therapist: 

A professional who deals in the prevention and treatment of de- fects of teeth and gums.  They can perform dental examination, take X-rays, impressions of teeth, administer anesthesia, perform filling in primary and permanent teeth, apply Fluoride, extract teeth by non-surgical methods, scaling and polishing of teeth and restorations as well as educating people in dental clinic or community on maintaining good oral hygiene. In majority of the countries, therapists need to work under the direct supervision of dental surgeon. 

Dental technician:

Involved in the designing, construction and repair of dental appliances. They receive instructions or model from dentists and then construct the desired appliances in dental laboratory.

Types of Dentistry:

Majority of the dentists are general practitioners who are able to do fillings, root canal treatments, scaling/ teeth cleaning, take dental X-rays and other simpler procedures. Besides, general dentistry, the various specialties are as under:

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It is concerned with diseases of the tissue, blood vessels, and nerves inside the tooth. The most common procedure in this field is “Root canal” treatment.

Forensic Dentistry:

It is the application of dental knowledge to questions of law.

Operative dentistry:

It deals with the restoration of diseased or damaged teeth. The most common procedure in this field is “Filling”.

Oral & Maxillofacial surgery:

This field includes treatment of injuries and defects of the mouth and jaw; they often perform complex surgical procedures such as lip surgeries, cleft lip and palate surgery and difficult tooth extractions. It mostly encompasses tooth extraction and removal of the wisdom tooth if it cannot be removed easily by the general dental practitioners.


It deals with proper placement of teeth and management of improperly positioned jaws or teeth. The most common procedure in this field is the application of braces to straighten the teeth.

Paediatric dentistry:

Deals with prevention and treatment of dental problems related to children and adolescents. It also helps in making children feel comfortable in having dental treatment.

Prosthetic dentistry:

It is concerned with replacement of missing, lost or defective teeth and gum tissues by artificial substitutes in order to improve function, health and appearance. Common procedures are denture, crown, bridge and implants.

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