We may have heard almost anyone we know call their dentists Dr. This or Dr. That. It may not be that big of a deal, but some who are really bothered if a dentist is worthy to be called a doctor. So let us answer that question straightforwardly: Are dentists doctors as well?
Are dentists doctors: Their education
All over the world, professional and licensed dentists finished either a DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) or a DMD (Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry or Doctor of Dental Medicine) degree. These two degrees have the same curriculum and training that a dentist needs; it is the school a dentist graduated from that defines which degree title to give them. This degree titles may be the reason why a dentist started to coin the title ‘Doctor.’
As an aspiring dentist in Australia, one has to finish a rigorous process before entering a dental school. After highschool, you have to pass the Undergraduate Medicine and Health Sciences Admission Test (UMAT) and undergo an interview before getting admitted. Australian universities offer different degree courses to become a dentist, namely:
- Bachelor of Dental Surgery (B.D.S)
- Bachelor of Dentistry (B.Dent)
- Bachelor of Dental Science (B.D. Sc)
- Bachelor of Oral Health in Dental Science (B.O.H.D.Sc)
All of these degrees are actually the same. It is up to the university you want to go to determine the degree they would give you. For example, the University of Melbourne offers two undergraduate degree titles – Bachelor of Dental Science and Bachelor of Dental Health. Postgraduate courses are also offered like Doctor of Clinical Dentistry or Doctor of Dental Surgery. After finishing all these, only then can they be legally called dentists.
Are dentists doctors: The job description
According to the American Dental Association, dentists are ‘doctors who specialize in oral health.’ The level of schooling and clinical preparation required for a dentist to achieve a degree, as well as the high academic standards of dental schools are on the same level as those in medical schools. Both learnings and training are essential for dentists and doctors to provide safe and effective care to their patients.
Like doctors, dentists also assess and diagnose certain diseases that concern a patient’s oral health. They also prescribe oral medications like pain relievers and antibiotics for oral infections. Dental surgeons also perform surgery on the teeth, jaw, or soft tissues whenever needed. All these they perform and practice to ensure their patient’s good oral health.
Are dentists doctors: What the Board says
Amidst the issue of dentists using the title doctor, the Dental Board of Australia issued a fact sheet in October 2012 entitled ‘Obligations of dental practitioners regarding use of title’. Here, they clarify that there is no law that stops a dentist from using the title Doctor. The only condition they have is when dentists use the title for advertising purposes. The Guidelines for advertising of health regulated services require dentists to state that they are not medical practitioners or medical doctors to avoid confusion and misinterpretation. Otherwise, patients and dentists alike can address their dentist and colleagues as ‘Doctor.’
Are dentists doctors: The conclusion
Giving respect to your dentist by addressing him or her as Dr.A or Dr. B is not illegal. If your dentist introduces himself as Dr. A or B, there is nothing wrong if you follow suit by accepting this title. However, if you think that dentists generally shouldn’t be called doctors, there is no law that prohibits you from doing that as well. As long as you do not show disrespect, calling your dentist Mr. or Ms. This or That is fine too! No matter what you call them, dentists are always going to be dentists. Title or no title, they are here to help us achieve and maintain our beautiful smile!