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How do you call your dentists? Do you address them as doctors or you just call them by their name? In your opinion, are dentists doctors as well? Does any of these question matter? Actually, they do. A lot of people all over the world are now asking that question about their dental partners – are dentists doctors too?


Are dentists doctors: The dilemma

Have you watched the movies “The Hangover” or “Roadies”? Both are comedy movies that may be unintentionally poked fun at the dental profession. There are scenes in these movies that somehow belittled or mocked since the dentist in the film addressed themselves as doctors when they are indeed ‘just dentists’.

Theoretically, people do not consider dentists because:

  1. Dentists do not treat a person holistically;
  2. Dental diseases are not life-threatening, so they “do not save lives”;
  3. They perform less invasive treatments and surgeries

These people who think of dentists this way do not have the correct knowledge of what one dentist has to undergo before being called a professional dentist.


Are dentists doctors: How to become a dentist?

In Australia, if you want to become a dentist, you must have an undergraduate degree of any of the following: Bachelor of Dental Surgery (B.D.S), Bachelor of Dentistry (B.Dent), Bachelor of Dental Science (B.D. Sc), or Bachelor of Oral Health in Dental Science (B.O.H.D.Sc). These Bachelor degrees are all the same; they are just different names given by various universities for their undergraduate dentistry courses. After finishing a dental degree, postgraduate studies in dental medicine, dentistry, or dental surgery are also recommended. Not to mention the entrance exam, requirements, and interviews rigorously undertaken, all these training and education takes time and effort for a student to become a full-fledged professional dentist in Australia.


Are dentists doctors: What dental associations say


The American Dental Association gives full emphasis on dentists as doctors of oral health. While dentists’ primary focus is a person’s overall oral and dental health, they have the same responsibilities as that of doctors. As oral doctors, they assess the patient’s overall dental condition, they diagnose their dental problem, they give advice on how to better care for your dental and oral cavity, they prescribe medications to alleviate symptoms, they perform dental procedures to correct a dental issue, and they administer anaesthesia and even perform surgery is necessary. Aren’t those responsibilities what doctors also do? Both professions see to it that we are all in better conditions while helping us care for our health.


Are dentists doctors: What the law says

In Australia, there is a law called the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law or National Law that controls how the professional dental system in the country performs. It forbids a nonprofessional to use the titles ‘Doctor’ or ‘Specialist’ if you are not board-certified or registered as part of the Dental Board of Australia. Moreover, the National Law does not give any prohibition about the use of the title ‘Doctor’ for dentists.  What it gives is a condition that if ever a dentist would want to use the coined title, he or she must make sure that no misinterpretation that they are medical practitioners will be elicited from their advertising materials. This condition is a way to avoid confusion that the dental marketing paraphernalia offers medical services instead of dental ones.


So, are dentists doctors? Yes, not medical doctors, but dental and oral doctors. But call them any other way; it doesn’t really matter. They can still perform their jobs and responsibilities as your dental health providers. It is up to us if we reciprocate their high-quality dental services with hard-earned respect and admiration to deservingly call them Doctors.


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