Is a Dentist a Doctor? 10 Facts, Explanation

Dentists are skilled specialists that aid in the care of the mouth and teeth. Regular visits to the dentist can help you maintain a high level of dental health, which may have a direct effect on your general health. 

Is a Dentist a Doctor?

Yes. Dentists possess doctoral degrees and are so referred to as “doctors.” Now, is a dentist a physician? Most of the time, no. However, certain dental specialists, such as oral surgeons, complete such rigorous and long study that they are considered “dentist physicians” and have both a DDS and an MD after their name.

Is a Dentist a Doctor?

Unlike those with a PhD who are also referred to as “doctor,” dentists have medical training and licensing. However, is your regular family dentist a physician? Dentists are not physicians of the entire body, but they are doctors of the mouth.

In actuality, your primary care physician is not equipped to treat your mouth; they refer you to a DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) or DMD (Doctor of Dental Medicine) (Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry.)

What Exactly Is a Dentist?

Are dentists oral physicians? Yes! Regarding the complete body? No. They are educated physicians who treat disorders of the teeth, gums, bone, and oral tissues, as well as provide treatment services to avoid the aforementioned conditions.

A dentist may do fillings, put crowns, replace missing teeth, modify bone development patterns, execute bone and gum grafts, remove teeth, and fit prosthesis such as dentures.

Dentists are educated to test for and diagnose oral, head, and neck illnesses. Depending on the dentist you see, he or she may even palpate all lymph nodes in your neck and scalp. Remember that your body and mouth are related!

Is a dentist a medical doctor? No. However, they can continue to treat and conduct oral surgery, give drugs, and provide anesthesia/sedation. You would not want a general practitioner to undertake a soft tissue graft and implant placement, just as you would not want them to perform the surgical procedures of a podiatrist (foot) or ophthalmologist (eyes).

Job Description

Similarly to the objective of routine physicals with a physician, which is to monitor and maintain your general health, dental checkups aim to avoid harm. Numerous underlying health concerns have close ties to oral health, and a dentist can detect early warning signals of health problems such as diabetic complications.

Dentists do oral surgery and can avert potentially hazardous conditions. For instance, periodontal disease and infection can be life-threatening illnesses that dentists frequently identify and treat.

Origins of the Term “Doctor”

Although often linked with medicine, the name “doctor” stems from the Latin word doceo, which means “to instruct.” Anyone deemed an expert in a certain discipline, whether it science or art history, may use the title “Dr.” if they have completed the necessary training. Generally speaking, any doctorate-level degree confers the title, and dentists are no exception.

Exceptions in the United Kingdom

Great Britain is one of the few nations in the world where dentists are not automatically conferred the “doctor” title. This is largely attributable to the complexities of the British educational system. In this system, dentists often hold a bachelor’s degree in dental surgery, abbreviated BDS, BChD, or BDent.

In Great Britain, the “doctor” title is occasionally used out of respect or as a politeness. As a method of establishing parallels to the systems in most other areas of the globe, some dentists refer to themselves as physicians. This has sparked debate.

Is a Dentist a Doctor?

Specialties and Practice Areas

Outside of the United Kingdom, a dentist is often regarded a physician, regardless of specialization. Generally, general or “family practice” dentists are the most prevalent. These experts do basic oral examinations, treat cavities, and promote healthy teeth and gums. The majority of dental school graduates are immediately qualified to become general practitioners.

Typically, specialties such as oral surgery and orthodontics require further education and on-the-job training. As long as a practitioner holds a DDS or DMD degree, he or she is still referred to as “doctor.”

What does a dentist do?

Dentists are oral health specialists. Typically, dentists get a pre-dentistry or pre-medical degree in college before enrolling in dental school.

Prior to certification, dentists must undergo rigorous training in their field, as is required of all physicians. Approximately 80 percent of dentists do general dentistry.

Certified dentists can diagnose and treat problems of the mouth, teeth, gums, and tongue. They can also clean your teeth, however dental hygienists often do this service.

Dentists provide the following care:

conduct and interpret dental X-rays

fill cavities

extract teeth

repair cracked teeth

promote oral health and oral hygiene

fill and bond teeth

treat gum disease, such as gingivitis

prescribe treatment, including prescription drugs, for oral health conditions

whiten teeth

install crowns or veneers

oversee the development of children’s teeth

perform oral surgery

Is a Dentist a Doctor?

Reasons to See a Dentist

There are several reasons to see a dentist, and it is essential to get a six-month checkup.

Preventive Care

First, your dentist will look for indicators of oral cancer, gum disease, and tooth decay. Regularly inspecting these factors helps prevent more significant issues in the future.

Your dental hygienist will also remove plaque and tartar, which contribute to tooth decay and gum disease, from your teeth. Your dentist and hygienist may provide you with advice on how to care for your teeth at home.

Pain or Discomfort

Visit a dentist if you have pain or discomfort in your teeth, mouth, jaws, or gums. The presence of pain or swelling in the neck, mouth, or face may indicate that something is wrong. Similarly, if you observe that your gums are bleeding or if you are having difficulty chewing or swallowing, you should consult a dentist to determine the possible causes.

Maintenance and Health

If you have previously undergone a dental operation, it is essential to ensure that everything remains in order. Similar to a medical doctor, a dentist may help you manage your health if you are pregnant, actively using cigarettes, or coping with persistent medical difficulties.

What Are The Different Fields of Dentistry?

The American Dental Education Association recognizes the following nine areas of dentistry:

 Endodontics: This aspect of dental health is concerned with the dental pulp and nerves of your teeth. A root canal is often performed by an endodontist.

Dental public health: As opposed to focusing on a single patient, dentists who specialize in dental public health are concerned with social health policy and the well-being of an entire community. These health professionals attempt to prevent oral illnesses on a massive scale.

Oral and maxillofacial pathology: This sort of oral treatment is administered by oral pathologists who are experts in the underlying causes of various mouth disorders. To diagnose a condition, a biopsy may be performed.

Oral and maxillofacial radiology: This branch of dentistry involves the use of x-rays and other diagnostic tools to manage illnesses of the teeth and facial bones.

Pediatric dentistry: This branch of dentistry involves the use of x-rays and other diagnostic tools to manage illnesses of the teeth and facial bones.

Periodontics: Also known as periodontology, this discipline of dentistry focuses on preventing and treating diseases affecting the tissues and gums that surround teeth.

Orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics: This style of dentistry entails straightening teeth and correcting oral-related facial flaws.

Oral and maxillofacial surgery: This dental specialty involves face surgery, extractions, and implants.

Prosthodontics:This type of dental treatment involves implant restoration specialists, bridges and dentures. These experts can also repair missing face components, including the nose, eyes, and ears.

Sleep Apnea: This covers the diagnosis and treatment of sleep problems, typically by oral appliances.

Is a Dentist a Doctor?

Education and Training

A dentist is a doctor, hence their educational route is comparable to that of a medical doctor. The first stage is to complete a bachelor of science degree program in a relevant discipline such as biology, chemistry, health, or mathematics. You must then take a dental admissions exam in order to apply to dental schools.

The training process includes:

  • Two years of biomedical science study are followed by two years of clinical practice.
  • Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DDM)
  • Obtaining a license to practice dentistry by completing written and practical tests

Dentists may then pursue certification by completing the National Board Dental Examination. Depending on the area of speciality, dentists may be required to undergo a one- to three-year postgraduate residency.

Dentists can choose to specialize in one of the following fields, each of which needs a residency following graduation:

  • Dental public health
  • Endodontics
  • Oral and maxillofacial pathology
  • Oral and maxillofacial radiology
  • Oral and maxillofacial surgery
  • Orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics
  • Pediatric dentistry
  • Periodontics
  • Prosthodontics

Getting Into Dental School

In the United States, there are about 150 medical schools (not to mention roughly 30 DO programs) but only about 65 approved dentistry institutions.

According to Medical School Insiders, the average prospective physician may submit applications to as many as 20 institutions, but only approximately 40 percent will be accepted. However, around fifty percent of candidates are accepted into dental school, making it almost as tough.

The dental school admittance rate is significantly lower than that of pharmacy, nurse practitioner, and law schools. Prior to enrolling in dental school, dentists must complete a rigorous curriculum in biology, chemistry, and mathematics such as physics.

Comparable undergraduate degrees or courses are held by many applicants to medical school. In reality, it is fairly unusual for individuals to apply to both, especially given that dentistry offers a far more desirable work-life balance.

How Long is Dental School?

Once in dental school, dental students endure two years of intense study in biomedical sciences followed by two years of clinical dentistry (making it a 4-year degree in addition to their undergraduate degree, for a total of 7-8+ years of schooling).

Dentists can also seek postgraduate specialization by completing three-year residencies to become specialists in a variety of dental fields (oral surgery, periodontics, orthodontics, etc.) In essence, if you’re visiting a dental expert, they may have spent up to 11 years in school after graduating from high school (the equivalent of repeating grades 1 through 12).

Type of Degree

After completing their formal studies, dentists do earn a medical degree. In truth, a dentist is a doctor who has acquired either a Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) or a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree and specializes in oral health.

DMD and DDS are essentially equivalent; the particular title provided depends on where the degree was earned. Therefore, a dentist theoretically has the title of “doctor” based only on their degree.

Combined Degrees

In certain instances, dentists hold several doctoral degrees. This is frequently the case for dentists who have also attended medical school or research dentists who have earned a PhD. This type of advanced training frequently improves practitioners’ work performance, but does not affect their titles. A doctor following the first degree is a doctor.

Professional Privileges

Dentists can often write and fill prescriptions, make diagnoses, and offer basic care, similar to most medical professionals. These abilities distinguish them from dental assistants and hygienists, who act more as aides than physicians.

In many offices, assistants do the majority of direct patient care, including initial examinations, x-ray processing, and basic cleanings. However, the doctor will review all results and is often responsible for making the ultimate conclusion regarding a patient’s oral health.


There are two primary categories of general dentists: Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) and Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry (DMD) (DMD). Similar to how there may be two distinct sorts of family physicians (MD-Medical Doctor and DO-Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine.)

DMDs and DDSs are able to give the same complete degree of dental treatment as DMDs and DOs are able to provide for medicine. Both possess degrees and licenses that are identical in every way.

According to the ADA, both categories of dentists function as doctors of oral health and provide the following services:

Diagnosis of disease

Treatment planning

Oral health promotion

Monitoring oral development

Surgical procedures

Emergency care

What’s the difference between DMD and DDS? Nothing beyond the sort of degree they received from the dental school they attended. There is no difference in training or curriculum. There is no meaningful distinction between the two, as they are identical.

Dentists are Real Doctors

In addition to four years of postgraduate study in oral health, dentists get extensive education in pharmacology, pathology, and the oral-systemic health link. Due to the fact that many diseases first manifest as oral symptoms, dentists might be your first line of defense in diagnosing and treating them.

And we’re not only discussing oral cancer. Numerous underlying health concerns might damage the soft tissues in your mouth, which is why it is essential to disclose your complete medical history with the dentist.

Dentists are regarded as oral physicians. Antibiotics, painkillers, steroid, and muscle relaxant prescriptions are available. During your scheduled operations, they can also prescribe sedatives in their office. Some of them give Botox as well.

When a dentist treats or restores a tooth, they are undertaking surgery. In certain cases, even the voids within the bone are addressed when altering and repairing rigid bodily components. You wouldn’t want someone with less than a PhD degree to do that to your mouth! Also, you would not want to receive a prescription from them.

The Best Doctor for Your Mouth

Are dentists doctors? Yes. However, is a dentist regarded as a medical doctor? No. However, you would not visit your family doctor for an abscessed tooth, cyst in the jaw, impacted wisdom tooth, or any other dental condition.

Your doctor would refer you back to a dentist for the degree of treatment you require to maintain your health. Unfortunately, the medical world (and health insurance, for that matter) has established a clear distinction between the mouth and the body.

Is a Dentist a Doctor?

The good news is that more professionals are recognizing the life-saving benefits of the oral-systemic relationship and how a qualified dentist may dramatically improve your long-term health.


Doctors and dentists are both doctors but they are very different. Most people know that doctors deal with human health and that dentists deal with teeth. However, there is much more to it than that.

There are many areas in which doctors are experts that dentists are not. One example would be in orthopedics. While a doctor is trained to deal with broken bones and the like, a dentist is not. A dentist will take X-rays and make sure that a patient is healthy before doing any procedures.

While a lot of people may think that a dentist is just a dental technician, that is not the case at all. Doctors have more training than technicians. Dentists are educated

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Pat Moriarty
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