Officially an individual practicing dentistry has received their DDS, or Doctorate in Dental Sciences. The academic requirements are much like a student studying to become a doctor in medicine. There is the standard four years for an undergraduate degree then an additional four years in the Dental Sciences.
When you are studying dentistry you will at some point rotate through the various departmental specialties, again, much like standard medicine. In medicine you will be exposed to trauma in the emergency room, to orthopedics, to pediatrics, just to mention a few. In dentistry you will rotate through a total of nine departments. Endodontics specializes in the dental pulp and the tissues surrounding the tooth, such as a root canal. Operative Dentistry specializes in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of decay. Oral Pathology uses radiology to investigate microscopic abnormalities. The Pediatric department provides oral health care to infants and children. Preventive or Community Dentistry tries to improve the public’s oral health through the control of oral diseases.
Involves both the tooth and the tissue around the tooth. Oral Surgery addresses surgical treatments when necessary, such as an implant or grafting. Orthodontics deals with the correction of irregular alignment of the teeth. Periodontics treats the gums and supporting bone structure. Finally we have Prosthodontics which deals with oral rehabilitation. This might include dentures, crowns, bridges, veneers and implants. Holy cow, that was quite a few! Often times with these specialties they will call on each other and provide you the patient a “team” approach as they address your specific oral conditions.
The History of Dentistry
Hundreds of years ago our ancestors had teeth and problems with their teeth. Ancient texts reference oral hygiene issues. As an example, as far back as 6,500 years there is evidence of beeswax being used as the first dental filing. Modern dentistry as we know it today started sometime after 1650 and before 1800. Pretty big window. In the United States it first entered the classroom in 1828 as a possible health profession. Practices around the world still differ in their approach to some clinical decisions.
The important role your dentist plays
In comparison to a third world country we Americans enjoy pretty good oral health. We can and will take our teeth for granted. Even though the enamel is hard and tough, it covers the dentin which is alive with active nerves. So regular examinations are crucial in maintaining your oral health. Then there is one other element that must be addressed. Your SMILE can be one of your biggest assets. Healthy teeth make up that smile. If you neglect those teeth it will result in having a negative effect on your smile. This will, believe it or not, erode your self-confidence and can change your day to day living. You know to
schedule an oil change in your car, why not a regular visit to your dentist. The cleaning, x-rays, evaluation and monitoring of your oral hygiene is worth every penny spent!
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