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Is a Dentist a Doctor?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 16, 2024
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Dentists in nearly all parts of the world are doctors, insofar as they have earned doctorate-level degrees. In many places, the phrase “doctor” seems to attach most naturally to those who are physicians, surgeons, or otherwise dedicated to care of the human body. Dentists do not usually fall within this group, but their title derives from their training — not their profession.

Origins of the Term “Doctor”

Although most commonly associated with medicine, the word “doctor” actually derives from the Latin word for “teach,” doceo. Anyone considered an expert in a specific field, be it science or art history, can be styled “Dr.” provided he or she has undergone the requisite training. Most of the time, any sort of doctorate-level degree gives rise to the title, and dentists are no exception.

Dental Training

Dental school is almost always the biggest requirement to becoming a practitioner. Different countries have different requirements, but most programs involve several years of post-graduate study culminating in either a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DDM) degree. Recipients of these degrees are both personally and professionally known as “Dr.”

Exceptions in the United Kingdom

Great Britain is one of the only countries in the world to not automatically confer trained dentists with the “doctor” title. This primarily owes to the nuances of the British education system. Dentists in this system typically earn only a bachelor’s of dental surgery, abbreviated BDS, BChD, or BDent.

The “doctor” title is sometimes used out of respect in Great Britain, or as a courtesy title. Some dentists also hold themselves out as doctors as a means of drawing a parallel to the systems in most other parts of the world, though this has caused some controversy.

Specialties and Practice Areas

Outside of the UK, a dentist is typically considered a doctor no matter his or her specialty. General or “family practice” dentists are usually the most common. These professionals perform basic oral exams, repair cavities, and help keep teeth and gums healthy. Most dental school graduates are eligible to become general practitioners right away.

Specialties like oral surgery or orthodontia typically require additional schooling and in-field training. So long as practitioner has the basic DDS or DDM degree, however, he or she is still simply called “doctor.”

Combined Degrees

In some cases, dentists carry more than one doctorate-level degree. This is often the case with a dentist who has also attended medical school, or a research dentist who has gone on to earn a Doctor of Philosophy, or PhD, degree. This sort of advanced training often helps practitioners to do better work, but it does not impact their titles. A doctor is a doctor after the first degree.

Professional Privileges

Like most medical doctors, dentists are typically able to write and fill prescriptions, as well as make diagnoses and provide primary care. These powers set them apart from dental assistants and hygienists, professionals who act more as assistants than doctors. In many practices, assistants do much of the hands-on work with patients, including initial exams, preparation of x-rays, and basic cleanings. The doctor will examine all findings, however, and is usually responsible for making a final determination when it comes to a patient’s oral health.

SmartCapitalMind is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a SmartCapitalMind contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

Discussion Comments

By anon989704 — On Mar 18, 2015

The reason I do not hold any dentist anywhere close to the level of a physician is the plain and simple fact that most dentists do not actually know what they are doing. Go ahead and ask yourself or any other dentist you know to dictate the chemical composition of the bond you place in your patient's teeth. Further, articulate to me how a light's specific wavelength and frequency at a given temperature polymerizes ethanol-diluted acrylate-acid based plastic resins to various tooth structures.

Dentists like to claim that they are in "medicine." However, I have not met a single dentist that can explain a single pharmacokinetic characteristic for any of the antibiotics or painkillers that they prescribe.

My point is that a physician must get into medical school (5-10 times harder to get into than dental school). They must endure anywhere from four to eight years of a rigorous residency that can regularly have 100-plus hour workweeks. Finally, they must have a strong understanding as to the complex biological and chemical concepts behind their practice of medicine.

I consider a professional a "doctor" when they have a strong command of all of this. Probably 99 percent of dentists haven't a clue as to any of this. Dentistry is a vocation, not a medical practice.

By anon986561 — On Jan 26, 2015

Dentists are also doctors.

By anon956604 — On Jun 15, 2014

Get real. A dentist is a doctor -- end of discussion.

By anon956602 — On Jun 15, 2014

In dentistry, the focus is narrow. You need to know a lot about a little bit. My purely medical colleagues know about as much as any guy on the street about head and neck conditions (except for ENT surgeons). The undergraduate training is rigorous and demanding. You are competent and capable of working on your own after graduation.

In medicine, you know a little bit about a lot. The undergraduate training is much easier, and you are most definitely not competent to practice on your own after graduation. In fact, you are only qualified to take a history, report your findings to a more senior doctor and then write in the notes. It is not until registrar level that the medical graduate becomes competent when the focus narrows to be more like a dentist. I know a lot about a little.

It's fundamentally a silly argument based upon people's ignorant perceptions.

By anon953458 — On May 27, 2014

Dentists are not doctors in the 'occupational' sense. Everyone knows a doctor is either a physician or someone that has a highly deserved PhD. A dentist is therefore not a doctor strictly speaking. The 'Dr' or 'dental surgeon' is merely a title they use to elevate their trade.

Dentistry is a streamlined study of the oral cavity, especially of the teeth and gums. Nothing more, nothing less. They are not at the same level as ENT surgeons or cardiologists or anesthesiologists! Please repeat that. Specialist doctors in any field (dermatology, radiology, pediatrics or the three mentioned above etc etc) are trained in general medicine and surgery for several years so they can diagnose, manage medical conditions. They then undergo further training in their specialty. Being able to do Basic Life Support like CPR does not constitute practicing medicine. Remember paramedics can do it also.

Dentists are at the same level as a podiatrist or physiotherapist. These professions also study anatomy, physiology or pharmacology but they do not apply this to clinical medicine. It is therefore false to say dentists are at the same level as specialist physicians when they are not.

By anon949054 — On May 03, 2014

If "dentist" was an honored and respected title then dentists should not feel the need to now be called "doctor".

Sadly it is the dentists' greed and incompetence and poor professional standards which, like all con men and shysters, has led them to try and cheaply change their reputation by re-branding.

No! Dentists are dentists and should not be riding on the backs of doctors to try and shed their dreadful reputation. Instead, you dentists should try and reclaim "dentist" as an honorable title by behaving honorably and honestly.

By anon940823 — On Mar 20, 2014

I may ask you here who the hell are you to decide who would get the doctor's title or not? A rule has been made -- just follow it. People with more authority give this title to the respective courses. Answer me a question: How is the MBBS supposed to get a doctor's degree? Just writing prescription and palpating things does not make you a doctor. The doctor degree is given for respect, not for questioning authority.

By anon930181 — On Feb 04, 2014

In Nepal, BDS are allowed to pursue MD in basic sciences like Anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, pharmacology, microbiology and forensic medicine.

A dentist has to complete same two years course of basic science as MBBS, and then they pursue knowledge in dental science.

For all your information, the "oral cavity is a window of whole body" and many diseases express themselves in the oral cavity even before the body itself. And the dentists are the first who can diagnose the disease.

It's just the shame that you all guys are discussing whether a dentist is a doctor or not.

By anon336857 — On May 31, 2013

The dentist will give you instructions on what to do at home, before you leave the surgery, following an extraction.

By anon304962 — On Nov 23, 2012

Dentists are entitled to the title of Dr.

Furthermore this garbage that medical practitioners review all dental findings is absolute crap. Medical practitioners are not trained to review dental work. They are only medically trained.

By anon290506 — On Sep 09, 2012

I have completed my 10th standard this year and I want to become a dentist so please tell me the difference between USC and UCLA?

By anon265080 — On Apr 30, 2012

You should all have had latin. Doctor means teacher -- one who is educated in an area. They are all doctors. Ph.D.,DO, MD, DDS, DVM. It means no more and no less.

By anon259786 — On Apr 08, 2012

Well I happen to be an oral and maxillofacial surgery trainee with both medical and dental qualifications.

Let's compare what I do as a dentist and a medic.

Dentist: Takes histories, performs examinations, orders investigations including X-rays and blood tests

makes a diagnosis, writes prescriptions, performs surgical and pharmacological treatment, admits patients to hospital for life threatening infections, treats them in the ward or operating room, does ward rounds and discharges them home, makes appropriate referrals.

Medic: Takes histories, performs examinations, orders investigations including X-rays and blood tests, makes a diagnosis, writes prescriptions, performs surgical and pharmacological treatment, admits patients to hospital for life threatening conditions, treats them in the ward or operating room, does ward rounds and discharges them home, makes appropriate referrals.

Gee, it's really sort of the same, isn't it?

In terms of differences: In dentistry, the focus is narrow. You need to know a lot about a little bit. My purely medical colleagues know about as much as any guy on the street about head and neck conditions (except for ENT surgeons). The undergraduate training is rigorous and demanding. You are competent and capable of working on your own after graduation.

In medicine you know a little bit about a lot. The undergraduate training is much easier, and you are most definitely not competent to practice on your own after graduation. In fact, you are only qualified to take a history, report your findings to a more senior doctor and then write in the notes. It is not until registrar level that the medical graduate becomes competent when the focus narrows to be more like a dentist. I know a lot about a little.

It's fundamentally a silly argument based upon people's ignorant perceptions.

By anon259624 — On Apr 07, 2012

This blog is funny. Who then is a doctor? That is my question.

By anon257017 — On Mar 24, 2012

Of course they are doctors. In my country dentists study for six years, with the first three years exactly the same as MD students!

By anon253617 — On Mar 10, 2012

Sorry, is this debate about dentists being doctors or not? That must be naive. Even the birds know.

By anon252870 — On Mar 07, 2012

Who said a dentist is not a doctor? Dentists are the real doctors.

By anon237162 — On Dec 28, 2011

Dentists are real doctors. They are by far more superior in hand skills, surgery and yes, they even save lives.

In the US, they, like physicians, need to take boards, and in some states they even have to do a residency and they are allowed to write prescriptions. They are the ones called upon in ER trauma calls for head and neck trauma because frankly, MDs have no clue about what goes on in the oral cavity.

By anon214536 — On Sep 15, 2011

@Post 210821: First class dental surgery should be available for everyone. In the UK, the primary qualification for dentistry is a bachelor's degree usually styled Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS). This does not confer upon any dental surgeon the academic title of 'Doctor'.

Rightly or wrongly, in the United States and some other countries, the primary qualification in dentistry is Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS). In the United Kingdom, a DDS (if it exists) would be a senior doctorate awarded on the basis of research and scholarly publications over the course of many years.

Like the title of 'Professor', the United States is far more 'liberal' with the title of 'Doctor' than is the case in the United Kingdom.

By anon210821 — On Aug 31, 2011

Yes, a dentist is a doctor. Here they have D.D.S. after their name which stands for Doctor of Dental Surgery. Being someone who has been through major dental surgery on the receiving end of it, not the performing end, I can assure you it is indeed surgery and very important surgery at that. Having bad dental health presents a great danger to one's overall health beyond just their mouth.

If you are considering dentistry, you should keep in mind the poor children and adults without health insurance who can't afford it and think about maybe opening a low-cost dental clinic in a less affluent neighborhood. I read in the newspaper a few years ago about a little kid who died because of an infection in his tooth, having not been to the dentist because his family couldn't afford it. The importance of good oral health, and by extension dentists, shouldn't be underestimated.

By anon187390 — On Jun 17, 2011

As has been mentioned a number of times in this thread, the title 'doctor' is from the latin and means 'teacher' and not physician. As such, a doctor was a university teacher with a doctorate in (say) Divinity or Law. Rightly or wrongly and from the 14th century, physicians without a doctorate have used the courtesy title of 'doctor', whereas UK surgeons without a doctorate have never used this courtesy title. Indeed, the first thing that UK physicians do upon becoming surgeons is drop the title of 'doctor' as fast as they can.

Until quite recently, dentists - as surgeons - have not used the courtesy title of 'doctor'. However, in the last few years, some dental surgeries in the UK have been styling their surgeons as 'doctor'. For example, at my dental surgery in a small market town about 18 miles from where I live in the northwest of England, all of the dentists have the title 'doctor' on their door. When I first saw this, I remarked how unusual it was that he (my dentist) had a PhD. My remark was met with some embarrassment and it was explained that this was the policy of the surgery and not of any individual. I pointed out that there was no tradition in the UK of styling a dental surgeon as 'doctor'.

Yes, I was told, this was true and what was on the door had no official standing with the National Health Service, nor for that matter, with the British Dental Association. Some time later, I received a letter from the local NHS authority informing me of certain staffing changes at this particular surgery. My dental surgeon - now styled as 'Mr X' in the letter - was leaving the practice and 'Mr Y', the senior partner would be making alternative arrangements. Clearly, the local NHS authority was having none of this 'doctor' stuff. It seems to me that the dental surgeons at my surgery have fine qualities and excellent qualifications and they do need to be styled as 'doctor' in what is surely a bid to 'enhance' their professional status.

By anon185216 — On Jun 10, 2011

Dentists are not doctors. They have been taught medical subjects in dental schools, but they concentrate all their efforts on the oral cavity. Once they graduate from dental school, they practice oral surgery. MBBS/MD's must work in a hospital to manage whole body conditions for a number of years and they then specialize.

Medical doctors are real doctors, because they go through this arduous training as junior doctors. Dental training at the university level may seem more intense and strenuous, but the training can end there. They then have the ability to practice only in oral surgery. You cannot compare a cardiologist to a dentist. It's like comparing a optometrist to ear nose throat surgeon. A medical specialist or medico, has undergone the training to be a 'whole body' physician as a junior doctor then specialises.

An ear, nose and throat surgeon or a cardiologist can both manage a person with a cardiac arrest, and know the in's and out's of a hospital system, to correctly manage that patient. A dentist cannot. A dentist is therefore not a doctor in the generic sense. Similarly, optometrists and podiatrists are not doctors.

By anon180338 — On May 26, 2011

What about Engineers with Ph.Ds? In the UK most medical "Doctors" do not have an MD. They qualify with a BM and are called Doctor? I am a space engineer with a Ph.D in engineering. Am I a doctor? It takes seven years of study, Many average persons cannot understand any other Doctor other than a medic.

By anon179039 — On May 22, 2011

"Dr" I believe is a courtesy term we all use including medical practitioners. As an earlier poster stated Doctor derives from "Teacher" and is a title given to those who have completed a PhD which requires original research leading to new knowledge for humanity making them our teachers. The rest of us have lowly bachelor and masters degrees making us just a bit cheeky when we use the Doctor moniker.

However it sets us apart, identifies us as the lead practitioner in our practice and gives our patients reassurance that we are a registered health practitioner with their best interests in mind.

By anon172495 — On May 04, 2011

I am under the impression that this point had been settled. A dentist is a surgeon and not a physician. Since the 14th century, physicians have (rightly or wrongly) used the courtesy title of 'doctor' which in Latin means teacher.

In the UK and for historical reasons, surgeons have never used the courtesy title of 'doctor' and are not styled as 'doctor'. This in no way diminishes the qualifications and qualities of a dentist or (more correctly) a dental surgeon.

By anon171491 — On Apr 30, 2011

if all say that a dentist is not a doctor, then why do we write "doctor" in front of our names? I'm a dental student and i want clarification that an mbbs will do dental treatment.

If they say that we are not doctors, i know we are not physicians, but we are doctors in our field. That means we are doctors of the oral cavity. Please clear up whether we are doctors or not.

By anon163850 — On Mar 29, 2011

well, dentists treat teeth which is the start of digestive system. So, if no dentist then no good health,

and no normal human!

By anon163279 — On Mar 27, 2011

thank you all for the kind information. my question is can a BDS student do an MD course like in microbiology, physiology, or anatomy like the other student (M.B.B.S)? Is the degree valid? Is it possible to run a faculty in medical college in departments like anatomy, microbiology, pathology by a BDS after doing masters?

By anon158351 — On Mar 06, 2011

@previous anon: so very true. It takes will and education to follow the road less traveled. I have never been happier than now, as an individual with a plan despite the naysayers. As a young woman, the opposition only makes the challenge more exciting.

By anon157048 — On Mar 01, 2011

@JM: You will be glad you decided for dentistry. Truly, only an educated fellow can decide against popular opinions around him, especially when they include the voices of those very close to him. When we talk about prestige, who better to give it than one's patients? Your life, or lifestyle, in the next five years or so will be another to command respect on its own.

By anon156915 — On Feb 28, 2011

I am so glad I found this. I just had a long talk with my father over my career decisions. I am a pre-dental student in my senior year of undergrad. According to my father, being a dentist is less prestigious than being an MD. Though I know he doesn't mean any harm, he is very narrow sighted on these types of things. Hearing this from the man I look up to in so many aspects of life really crushed me, but I am educated enough to know better.

What is a dentist if not a doctor? They specialize in the mouth, and the rest is history. Lets not be so ignorant about it, and especially not obnoxiously technical. I cannot wait to become a doctor, DMD, dentist! --JM

By anon145953 — On Jan 25, 2011

to anon142589. Are BDSs doctors in India, because as I can see from your description, things in your country are complete opposite of what one obtains elsewhere?

Anyway, thank God I'm somewhere else.

By anon142589 — On Jan 13, 2011

My idea on things in India (it could be the opposite in any other country)

MBBS is a 5+1 year and BDS is a 4+1 year course, with an additional one year for practising as a house surgeon. BDS was always secondary to MBBS in India as it had less monetary benefits. Believe me, there are less than 1 percent of people in India going to dentists, unlike in the US. But dentistry is getting popular right now.

Even now, the creme de la creme go to medical and the next level (who did not make it to MBBS) go to dental study.

By anon138328 — On Dec 31, 2010

Why do people usually want to discredit the dentist? Is it because he is unique, and most of the time the most prosperous amongst other professionals of his standing? I cannot understand.

Is a dentist a doctor? = Is Queen Elizabeth a woman?

Hey. My son is just getting into a school of dental medicine, and i hope he will make it as well as other dentists out there.

By ayofe74 — On Dec 29, 2010

I seem to share the view of the last contributor to some reasonable extent. A major thing is the wide variation in the models of dental studies in different schools across the globe.

Here we spend five years in medical school together with our MBBS counterparts before branching off completely in the 6th year to the dental end of the umbrella college of medicine of the university.

Though during the five years in medical school with the medical students, we were taking our dental stuff alongside, which made our training more strenuous.

In contrast to what can be inferred from most of the articles by many sites, there isn't much disparity between the two schools in my own place than what i would describe as mere caricature.

We're students of the same class, taking the same lectures and exams. We stay in the same hostels, mixed together in all proportions. Read together, do tutorials, organize dinners,and events together. Participate in same quiz competitions, form same sports teams against other school teams.

In fact we're the same. No animosity for each other, like all the ones i can infer exist in some other lands from the nature of the various laughable web page articles, though sometimes we used to remind each other what we were.

Sometime a med student would say, 'hey, any teeth doctor in the house; how do i sharpen my teeth?' And dental students may reply, 'hey Dr. Jack of all trades, master of none, meet me in my surgery, you and your bankers' while another may say, 'Dr. Generalist, additional knowledge of head and neck is what separates us men from you boys.' It was all for laughs.

On graduation, we're inducted into the society of doctors by the same medical council after the physician's oath taking. Postgraduate training too is almost similar. Six years residency for oral surgery and neurosurgery, five for all others, four for psychiatry.

In essence, dental training here is based heavily on medicine. During internship, you might be posted as the casualty officer in the Accident and Emergency of the hospital where you make fast medical decisions to save lives and thereafter patients committed tour care except if specialized care is indicated.

So this model of training has placed dentistry beyond something anyone could make unguided statements about.

To say dentists are not doctors automatically disqualifies the general practitioners as well because dentists did 99 percent of MDs training while MDs did 0 percent of BDS or DDS training.

Dental schools should harmonize their curricula so as to phase out inequality in competence of dentists. And editors of this page should begin to rephrase their topic so as not to sound outdated, 'Is a dentist not a doctor?' or 'do MD's have as much training as DDS?' Thank you.

Kind regards to you, anon134563, 135132, 135698, if you are reading.

By anon137024 — On Dec 25, 2010

@anon132442: I must agree with your statements in part.

It really depends on the dental school one attended.

The dental college my daughter attends does cover many of the topics an MD student covers, plus all the dental stuff. She goes to school 350 days a year for four years and she starts to see patients the middle of her first year.

Her friends who attend medical schools all agree that she is covering everything they are, plus tons more on the head and neck.

I do not like that there is a major difference between dental schools but that is just a truth of life. Many DDS's fall into your aforementioned statement but more and more are equals to the MD with a specialty of the head, neck and oral cavity. It is true that DADs do not work on internal organs and alike. but MD don't do the head and neck.

Also more and more many DVDs are the first to find medical problem beyond the oral cavity and refer to the MD's. Bottom line: DVDs and MD's give up a lot of their lives to achieve the tile Doctor; they just do different things and are highly educated. Thanks.

By jessik123 — On Dec 20, 2010

Yes, they are doctors. Doctor is another name your dentist answers because he is one. Getting to the dentist's surgery, you won't be told to say 'good morning doc, i have a problem which only doctors of your sort can fix. now what can you do to help me?'

And you @ayofe74, you are better reading guidance and counseling. Good that somebody like you has visited this page. Believe me, you are a good dental ambassador. Hope your comments bring encouragement to not only anon135132.

Back to my point. I haven't come across a dentist who is not a dental surgeon, and by good inference, a doctor.

By anon135698 — On Dec 20, 2010

I am sure you will be glad to hear this. For three days i feel so confident and perfect about the choice that i have made to become a dentist. i am so glad i made it. yeah, you sure would hear from me as a dentist like after four more years because i am in 1 year now and the course is five years! It's okay that you responded a little late. i understand. You have become to me like a mentor.

All the people (except my dad and mom) i try to discuss about dental and the way i feel about it just get the so called lowly points out. i hate that but you are different and cool and encouraging. i hope one day god will keep me in a position where all my friends who now think the dental profession is not all that good will look up to me and to my dental buddies (that's you!) Merry Christmas to you too!

By ayofe74 — On Dec 19, 2010

@anon135132; 134563: I've always wanted to respond to your requests as soon as possible within the constraints placed upon me by my daily schedule. Thus am sorry for not responding rather more quickly than this, like i really liked to do.

Am glad to tell you I am from Nigeria, and that's where am in love with the dental career.

All this said, i wish you to know that nothing will give me much joy as when I hear from you again in the near or distant future with excitement in your voice while you sound enthusiastic, like:

"Hello Nigerian friend. Remember me? Am anon 134563, 135132. I got out of the dental college as dentist and doctor few years ago. I've since established a successful dental practice in the heart of the city here. Never thought a practice could be this sweet and fulfilling. The joy of putting smile on patients' faces is mesmerizing with this profession. Life is sweet and I can taste it. I'm enjoying a vacation in Hawaii or Dubai this summer with people who matter and also have a lot of bucks to donate to charity. I'm very happy with the choice i made."

Then the very essence of leaving you this and the previous comments will just have been realized. And I will have smiled back into the phone and thanked God, for you will have made my day too in return!

So please buckle yourself with the whole armor of dedication and duty to your dental and medical trainings and hep make this a reality.

Should you have more questions to ask, or experience to share on any issue at all, feel free to contact me. I'm very convinced your gifts and ability and what you will contribute to this noble profession and the overall health of the world. Assume my warmest regards as we approach xmas and New Year.

By anon135132 — On Dec 17, 2010

@ayofe 74: Thanks for your comment. i am glad to hear from you. thanks for telling me about things that i didn't know, and especially for sharing your experience. It's all encouraging. are you at the moment practising? may i know from which country you are? thanks once again!

By anon135131 — On Dec 17, 2010

Dentists are doctors. If you don't agree, come let's test your brain. If you have been patronizing dentists who are not doctors, you need to test your brain again and again and again.

By ayofe74 — On Dec 16, 2010

@anon134563 How encouraging to know about how you have found courage and happiness reading my post. but above all, i am sensitive to your feeling, which makes me to want to leave you this comment as you have requested.

There are just few things i want you to know. First, by choosing to study dentistry, you have made the wisest choice. By finding and being admitted at a dental school, you are lucky. By being a dental student, you are intelligent. By remaining a dental student without being withdrawn, you are very brilliant; because you will become a dentist (quite unlike other people who don't have any idea where medicine is going to eventually lead them), you are indeed fortunate!

You don't have any justification for being sad about the best choice you already made, and mind you, the current feeling your medical friend is making you have is what will push you up if you face your life with a little more courage.

If you are not equal to your medical counterparts, then you are superior and not inferior. Do not succumb to people's opinion about your life. If you will succeed in this career, you will find a great host disputing your path between good or bad. And I set it as the worst sign in your entire dental career if you are bothered by the frivolous remarks from these medical counterparts.

Another thing i want to correct is that it is wrong to say that people consider dentists inferior to medicine docs. If there is anything that sounds like that, you should have said, "uneducated fellows consider dentists inferior to medicine docs."

Perhaps you will be surprised to hear that the medical students value what you have more than you think, and various comments you have from them are mere pretension. Let me give you an instance from my experience:

When dental patients presented to our main hospital's general outpatient department in error with the mind of seeing any doctor, they are then referred to the dental center for expert handling. The referral letters always came without definite diagnosis. For all referred dental patients, whether cancers, or trauma or infection or congenital malformation, the md docs would write "dental anarchy" as diagnosis. This shows how poorly they understand conditions of the head and neck.

The system took notice of this, and at the slightest chance that our college of medicine gave the MBBS students to vote for any change they want in the new curriculum about to be effected,all of them desired dental postings,of at least two months!

Of course it is better for them, and to the total health of a man and i don't see anything bad in them wanting to have brief dental knowledge if it would help the poor patients, but the point i am trying to make is that, the med students and docs really like what you have that they don't have. Though what they have but you don't have is ignorance of dentistry, and dental care.

In essence, dentistry is an interesting and unique course which is highly demanding. In school, quite a number of medics used my notebooks to pass their exams, which I gladly released to them. i only had to demarcate for them the aspect that is beyond their scope, which is the dental part. most of them usually came back to tell how they didn't have to read outside the notebooks.

So please live your life as a dentist. you will be proud you are in it!

By anon134563 — On Dec 15, 2010

@ayofe 74: wow to your comment. thank god i read your comment. you made my day!

hope you read my comment. you are one of very few people who actually has a fair opinion about dentists. i want to tell you why your comment worked like a magic go on baby portion to me.

Well, today i went to a medical college because that's where we are taught medical subjects all other dental subjects we are taught in our own dental college.

in that medical college i saw one of my 11th grade classmates and i felt very bad/sad. i felt i too should have been in a medical college because people consider dentists inferior to medicine docs.

i cried coming home a lot and prayed in the evening. i read your comment i am so encouraged and happy now thank you for your sweet comment. if you read this leave a comment for me.

By ayofe74 — On Dec 09, 2010

To anon132442: You are just one of the few md students who express a fair opinion about didactic nature of dental surgery.

But for avoidance of doubts, let me assert that dental students don't just claim their curriculum is fairly md++. It is actually so. I don't know where you are training, but i feel your fair knowledge of dentistry is informed partly by some dental background you claim you have-bro in law. Or you have dentistry in your med school, which would've been more relevant here?

In my own school, MBBS/BDS is a single class up to the end of the fifth year.We separate in the sixth. So all the courses in the basic medical sciences are taken in the same classrooms, same hours. Same contents. Taken by same lecturers who prepare both for the same exams. And same examiners examine them to the same depth.

I have just described what they have in common. There is then a part B to the same exams for BDS only, and this has to do with their dental peculiarity.

It may be true as you said your brother in law took a shorter length in pathology; it is probably because there is still enormous core of other things he has to learn as a dental student, and which require time. But i tell you this had nothing to do with how much he must learn within that time frame and the depth. He still must complete a detailed learning in this area.

Simply put, dental training entails much more than medicine but the practice is less strenuous than medical practice.

All the same, that is what makes dental practice enjoyable for those that have paid the price in the dental school, and dentistry a wise choice for me.

By anon132442 — On Dec 06, 2010

As a medical student there is one thing I don't understand. MD's do make fun of doctorate degrees, like chiropractors, natural-crap, PhD, even podiatrists which isn't really fair, but the only classes groups they never bash are dentists and vets. Medical students always split MD's into: 1) Medicine or 2) Surgery.

We look at dentists being surgeons of the mouth, and vets as being either medical or surgeons to animals.

I don't understand why dental students have to claim they have all the exact courses in basic sciences, plus all their dental courses. It is obviously not possible. my brother in law is in dental school, and he had all of pathology complete in one semester two times a week (in addition to eight other classes).

Pathology in medical school is minimum five days a week for two semesters, taken along with one other class for my school at least. I spent 12 hours a day, seven days a week on two classes, 60 percent being pathology,

MD's never "claim" to have any dental training. We spent one day on oral pathology, so all i know is enamel, dentin, pulp, and inferior alveolar nerve in the canal, (oh and the duct from parotid opens near some moller).

So all dentists please believe me, you are one of only two degrees MD's like.

But we understand we are not qualified to do oral surgery, just as we understand you're not qualified in internal medicine. Believe me, I know it seems like your education is harder, but it isn't possible. it is equally difficult, (just different).

By ayofe74 — On Dec 01, 2010

It doesn't shock anyone again to find comments as those posted regarding the doctor status of the dentist, and the kind of article they address. Rather most of them exposed ignorance of a profession that is getting more and more popular by the second and a contempt for what has been universally accepted to be good-the Dentist and his profession!

But has it not often been said that.."the success of the dentist has nothing to do with the frustration and opinions of the medics"? Those who say that dentists aren't exactly what they qualified to be called are those that would deny the very existence of themselves. Talkers of mischief, they are widely called.

Dentistry is unique in being a medical specialty course thought at undergraduate level. I went to a school which runs both medical and dental schools under the same umbrella College of medicine. And i tell you that dental students are seen as students of medical school with a special interest at the dental end of the college.

Those of us who went to such schools whether medical or dental are those who have gone the full circle as we learn the striking resemblance of both professions by experience, and not by hearsay.

In Nigeria, medical and dental trainings take six years plus a one-year internship and one year of community service before you are fully licensed to practice either medicine or dentistry, or both in case of dentists. While on training, the only differences between the dental and medical curricula are those courses dental students take extra.

During those extra hours of learning, the students of medicine were off in their beds in the hostels or socialising.

This discussion will benefit immensely from the following highlights of courses thought to these categories of student doctors, and serves to enlighten the unenlightened or remind those pretending about this issues or those deliberately being obtuse:

Pre-Clinical School: 1. MBBS- Gen. anatomy

BDS- Gen anatomy + dental anatomy + oral embryology and oral histology.

2. MBBS- Gen human physiology

BDS-Gen. human physiology + oral physiology

3. MBBS-Biochemistry BDS- same as for MBBS

Clinicals: 4. MBBS-pharmacology of all drugs

BDS- pharmacology of all drugs plus special emphasis on local anesthesia, analgesics and antibiotics.

5. MBBS- Gen pathology including histopath, med microbiology, hematology, chem pathology

BDS-Gen pathology including all those branches AND further from that to Oral pathology/ oral diagnosis, which is a broad specialty of dental practice.

6. MBBS-Medicine; BDS-Medicine plus Oral medicine.

7.MBBS- Gen surgery plus specialty surgery

BDS-Surgery in general and brief overview of specialty surgery during clinical rotation. Plus oral surgery, maxillofacial surgery.

8.MBBS- O&G, paediatrics; BDS-Paediatrics plus paediatric dentistry.

9.MBBS- subspecialty surgery-ENT, anesthesia, ophthalmology, and psychiatry; BDS-ENT, anesthesia.

10. MBBS-Public Health Medicine; BDS- Public Health Medicine plus Community dentistry.

11 MBBS- Full stop; BDS- orthodontics; Conservative dentistry, Prosthetics, Science of dental materials, operative techniques, Periodontology and a host of others.

Point is, while the MBBS students of our set only had to look at cases being managed, dental students were trained to diagnose and also manage, including performing simple operative procedures as students under their consultants.

Why would anyone holding a MD degree from the same university as mine open his mouth and say dentists are not doctors or know only about teeth? Of course that is almost impossible since such MBBS doctors trained together with their counterpart BDS doctors know them better.

While the time will never come when the MDs would begin to talk in a language the dentists don't understand, i wish to stress that an MD in the gathering of dentists is always like a stranger in moscow- completely alien, lost and stranded.

Dentists are taking their exalted positions in the societies of doctors. Especially here, dentists are often the Chief Medical Directors of full blown teaching hospitals, Provosts of colleges of Medicine, top executives of the national medical association, holders of medical and dental and surgical fellowships locally, regional and internationally to include the royal and international colleges of surgeons.

Even in the hospital setting, you see commonly dental registrar seeing patients of all medical differentials, and also becoming the presidents of resident doctors.

And in real practice, dentists are by far the most successful of all the medical colleagues in terms of income. So you talkers of mischief, stop saying what you don't know, stop pretending that dentists' lives are no challenges to you or a constant reminders of the mistakes you must have made in your life choices.

Swallow your pride, or hide your insecurity if you can't deal with it. I understand with you that all these good things about dentists are more than enough to make you feel insecure, that there is a version of you that knows better than you. Please don't worry about your job security, dentists are not looking your way, because they sure are not interested. Already their jobs pay them, and they have much time to reap the reward of their efforts.

Won't anyone laugh when an army general says Air-force men are not soldiers or don't have military training or cannot also fight on land? So it is when a medical doctor says dental doctors are not doctors, or don't have medical training or cannot also provide medical services. It is an argument that cannot hold in reverse. It holds fore, but not backward: as it is the medical doctors that can't manage a dental problem while dentists can manage the medicals.

Instead we love you, and if you care to come when you fight dental problems, we will take you as doctor colleagues and give you the kind courtesy treatments you deserve.

But if you don't see us as wanting to give you courtesy, please bring us the fat wallet and duly pay us for the service we will provide you, just as it applies to other non doctors.

I will leave this: "dentists' success and happiness doesn't depend on your opinion of them, just like unpleasant remarks don't affect the sweet taste of honey."

That guy looking at patients' mouths with interest is not just a doctor, he is something greater-a dentist. You had better respect him.

By anon130993 — On Nov 30, 2010

While I am not sure what a 'CD' is in this context, I do believe that the thrust of the argument of the previous contributor is essentially correct.

That a qualifying degree in medicine is not a doctorate is understood explicitly in the UK where the degree awarded is the degree of Bachelor of Medicine (M.B.) This degree is a very far cry indeed from the UK degree of Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) which is a senior doctorate requiring substantial and original research undertaken over the course of a lengthy period of time. Indeed, the requirements for this M.D. are so great that it is more often than not awarded as an honorary degree to a person of national distinction.

All of this begs the further question: Is a physician a doctor? In the UK, the answer to this question is: Hardly ever! - Because it is rare for a physician to have been awarded a doctorate of any description let alone an M.D.

By anon129508 — On Nov 23, 2010

Sorry folks, but CDs are not considered earned "doctorates" at all. Only when one spends the time and effort earning a PhD does one officially have the right to carry the title Dr. All physicians I know would be greatly offended by this.

PhDs spend four years earning a BS. They then spend two or three years earning an MS, depending upon whether their master's degree is a research degree. Many go on to earn a Specialist's degree, which takes yet another one or two years. Only then do they begin their PhD. The average PhD holder takes over six years, working on it full time, to complete the degree. So, the average PhD has between 11 and 14 years of formal education.

But follow the MD. A BS is not even required in many places. But then again, a license to practice as a physician only requires a BS, or four year undergraduate degree. But let us assume the average MD has a four year BS. They then go directly to medical school, spending three years. Then they spend another couple of years in residency training and then maybe another one to three years training in a specific field. So the MD earns how many years of education?

Seven? Eight? Ten? Nope! About six would be the appropriate answer. Remember that I asked how many years of education were earned. I did not ask how many years of education and training they had.

Many fields required training beyond education - like engineering. So, to argue that an internship, etc. is part of their education is a bit weak.

Further, be aware that universities do not consider MDs doctorates. Sorry, but this is just the cold truth. Only those with earned PhDs are consider doctors.

How do I know all of this? I have an earned PhD. And before you begin to fuss about money. I earn around nine to eleven times a year more than the average MD, so don't waste your time with that one.

By anon126258 — On Nov 12, 2010

While we are still on the subject, the (personal?) view that only physicians are entitled to use the title 'doctor' and everyone else with the title is 'pretentious' has a number of difficulties to surmount before it can ever become the received view of the vast majority.

1. This view is overwhelmed by many centuries of tradition and custom that have regarded a doctor as a teacher/academic. For centuries, the title of 'doctor' did not refer to even imply the practice of medicine.

2. From the 14th century onwards physicians began to appropriate the title 'doctor'. One is reminded of the saying: 'Faith is not dead - it has merely been transferred to the medical profession'. It would seem that even physicians are not immune from the crime of pretentiousness.

3. According to the logic of this view, physicians who have retired or cease to practice medicine should give up the title of 'doctor'. Do they? Answer: The vast majority of non-practising physicians continue to call themselves 'doctor'.

Turning to the burning question: Is a dentist a physician? How long is a piece of string? Yes, a dental surgeon does need certain medical qualifications and skills but as a surgeon he or she is practising surgery.

In the UK, medicine is medicine and surgery is surgery. In short a physician (with the appropriated courtesy title of 'doctor') is a physician and a surgeon (without an appropriated courtesy title) is a surgeon.

By anon123242 — On Oct 31, 2010

Since you`re on the subject, I've always found it very pretentious that anyone even uses a "Doctor" title outside of a medical practice. And that should only be used to identify the person doing the job. The use of "doctor" originated only to try to raise one`s prestige.

In fact, many people have just as much training in specific areas as do doctors, but the rest of us don't go around having people address us by title.

I have several friends who are high ranking in the military, and yet never once, have i heard them introduce themselves at a non-military function with their rank.

By anon122654 — On Oct 28, 2010

a dentist is also a physician. dentists practice medicine as well, they just specialize in the oral cavity much like an opthomologist specializes in the eyes etc.

By anon119686 — On Oct 19, 2010

This whole discussion about the medical status of dentists is clouded (I might even say bedevilled) by the use of the rather desirable title of 'doctor'.

As has already been observed, the title of 'doctor' is from the latin and means teacher - hence the ancient expression 'doctor of the church' granted to figures such as Jerome, Augustine of Hippo, Thomas Aquinas, Catherine of Sienna etc etc. I am not aware that any of these great church figures ever practised medicine.

Somehow and from the 14th century this ancient title denoting teaching also came to be associated with the practice of medicine and rightly or wrongly, the usage is an entrenched one.

Perhaps physicians thought that they were entitled to be addressed as teachers as well?

It has also been observed correctly that the modern title of 'doctor' definitively conferred by the academic award of a doctorate is not the monopoly of any single profession.

It is therefore more fruitful to ask the question Is a dentist a physician? The answer to this question is no. A physician practises medicine while a dentist as a dental surgeon practises surgery. Yes, there is a degree of overlap (especially in the case of a surgeon who has qualified beforehand as a physician) but this does not mean that a dentist is a physician.

By anon119003 — On Oct 16, 2010

Actually, American society uses the "doctor title" very loosely. Perhaps the most unmentioned, but very obvious component of this conversation is the translation of the word "doctor" to mean physician (one who holds the Doctor of Medicine/Doctor of Osteopathy degree).

The medical profession (with all its specialties and subspecialties) is practiced by "physicians." This response is supported by the language in the opening statement of this site.

We do not compare dentists with doctors; the comparison is between dentists and physicians.

The title "Doctor" is based on the academic degree conferred (not because of the intensity and rigor of the academic program, nor the time required to complete the training). Which by the way, on average, is usually longer for the higher degrees (PhD). The same goes for any other "doctoral level" degree. These include (as sparsely mentioned) the Doctor of Philosophy degree (which encompass a broad range of fields: agriculture, biology, business, chemistry, education, history, physics, political science, psychology, etc.).

The professional doctorates include the Doctor of Medicine, Doctor of Dental Medicine/Doctor of Dental Surgery, Doctor of Public Health (Dr.P.H.), Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, and yes even the Juris Doctor (Doctor of Jurisprudence = lawyers) to list a few.

No profession owns the title. Again, it is based on the actual conferred degree. "Too easy."

By anon116576 — On Oct 07, 2010

The title of 'doctor' is conferred upon any person who has been awarded a 'doctorate' e.g. D.D., D.Sc., M.D., Ph.D. and so on. The strict meaning of the title is from the Latin - 'teacher'.

Physicians who do not possess a doctorate are by custom given the courtesy title of 'doctor'. By further custom in the UK, surgeons (including dental surgeons) do not use the title 'doctor' because surgery and medicine were once separate practices (i.e. barber surgeons).

In the medical context matters are complicated when the initial degree is an M.D. (as for example in America)and not M.B., B.S. (as for example in the UK). In a nutshell, dental surgeons are styled 'Mr., Mrs. or Miss' in the UK unless they have a doctorate in their own right. Revd. Dr. David N. (Ph.D.) from the U.K.

By anon112033 — On Sep 18, 2010

To all those who feel only hospital/general physicians (M.D., D.O.) should be called doctor. Why don't you go back to where you graduated with your bachelors, assuming you have one, and ask you professors who have earned PhD's, "I don't feel right calling you doctor seeing as how you did not go to medical school." Then tell me that they will not be angered by that comment. A physician is one who practices medicine. A neurologist can prescribe, diagnose, but does not operate, does that not make them a doctor?

A dentist specializes in the oral cavity, and facial bones, and some even perform surgery including reconstruction. They went through the schooling, training, and boards. They have every right to be called doctor.

By anon105848 — On Aug 23, 2010

Whoever wants to be called doctor, I'll call them doctor: physicians, my dentist, my cat's vet, my children's principal (Phd).

Some of them I call doctor, based not only on their profession, but the kind of person they are as well. For others it's a display of respect for their achievements and some based on their individual need of affirmation and significance (the principal).

Heck, if it makes him happy and makes him feel better about himself, I'll call my mechanic doctor. I spent 35 of my 40-year police career as a homicide detective in a major city. Although I am nine credits short of a criminal justice "associates" degree, (which I began in 1975), I do not have a college degree,(sidebar:

35 years on a two-year degree, har!). However in reading all these posts and how long and hard people worked for their degrees and their various titles, I started thinking perhaps I would qualify for a "Doctorate of Homicide Detectives".

I have 40+ years of continuing education, (some classes have actually ran 48-72 hours straight, non-stop) and as for residency equivalent, I recall one stretch of time that I was called-out on murders three Christmas Eves in a row.

Maybe from now on I'll insist on people addressing me as "Master Detective Doctor Joe Blow". I'm ordering new checks tomorrow!

By anon102421 — On Aug 07, 2010

I am getting an MD/PhD, and let me tell you, the PhD is harder to attain. Second, everybody please look up history of MDs. PhDs were the original doctors of medicine until it was deemed their specific knowledge was more of that of a bigot trained mechanic for the human body, my analogy.

PhDs are called doctors because they contribute novelty and ideas to the world. Most doctors just regurgitate knowledge learned, and this is application, however it hardly qualifies as a novel idea.

In many countries, including England, the title 'Doctor' is reserved who do research and have completed a lengthy research track. Physicians are just called Mr. or Ms./Mrs. Like everybody else. Everybody read some history and get off your damn high horse. The lay people don't know any better. MD/PhD UMich

By anon102146 — On Aug 06, 2010

An interesting fact that I ran across recently is that dentists are not required to have a bachelor's degree to attend dental training. Hmm. How many doctors don't have bachelor's degrees?

By anon100931 — On Aug 01, 2010

Dentists deserve to be called doctor. in the uk you study five years to become a dentist as with medicine. I know a dentist has to have knowledge of anatomy, physiology, microbiology of the human body not to mention the pharmacology etc. so in total medics have five years' knowledge on the body as a whole, but we spend five years on the head and neck. It kind of puts things in perspective and stresses its importance.

By anon97077 — On Jul 18, 2010

I feel that the doctor title should be reserved for health professionals. A dentist is a doctor, but depends how you look at it.

A phd is a doctor of research. At the end of the day, if you call yourself doctor outside of your remit, people will assume you are a medically qualified doctor. Also, how embarrassing would it be if you called yourself doctor, and people started asking you for medical advice or someone collapses in front of you? Only a medically trained doctor would be able to do something.

Does not mean to say a dentist does not know their stuff, but they are trained in teeth conditions and do need to know a lot more, but regardless will never have the training that an MBBS/MD programme can offer.

My final opinion is that medical doctors and dentists should be allowed to use the "doctor" outside of work, but Phd people should reserve that just for their place of work if it is relevant to their academia. A phd doctor should not be called doctor if he/she decides to work as a taxi driver or something.

But legally it doesn't work that way, but if you called yourself doctor to the general public, you would be thought of as a medical practitioner.

Phd people, don't put doctors on your credit cards, bills, etc. You'll just get embarrassed one day when someone asks you something you aren't qualified to say.

By anon94458 — On Jul 08, 2010

Dentists do not deal with the treatment of teeth only. They are also responsible for the maintenance of healthy teeth and adjacent structures including gums, oral mucosa, jaw bone etc.

Some dentists specialised in oral and maxillofacial surgery are involved in major surgery including reduction of maxillofacial fractures and corrective jaw surgery and not all maxillofacial surgeons have an MD degree.

Would anyone let someone other than a doctor operate on his jaw or remove one of his salivary glands?

By anon93791 — On Jul 05, 2010

I am a dentist hence I am a doctor. The word implies one thing: mastery of a certain subject. I am a master, an expert in dental surgery, therefore I was bestowed with the degree Doctor of Dental Surgery. I took the same courses my first two years as any of the med students took, and I also took many courses they didn't take.

An MD would be as completely lost and foolish attempting to prep a class 2 amalgam filling on tooth #18 for the first time, as I would be performing an appendectomy without proper training. Again, the word doctor implies mastery of one's field. Any person who believes that MD's are the only professionals who deserve the title need to either do more research or confront their own egos (and by the way, you DO's out there aren't any more special than the rest of us either.)

Simply put, if you have a doctorate you are a doctor and no one can take that distinction from you be it MD, DDS, DVM, DPM, PhD, DO, OD, DPT, EdD, DMD, JD or any honorary degree. Would you have Dr. Benjamin Franklin lose his title because his expertise was in a subject different from medicine? What about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.? Does he not earn the respect because his doctorate had letters other than MD? We with doctorates are all doctors, and if you are in the healing arts I am glad to call you a colleague.

One last gripe: just because you do not have the title Dr. doesn't mean you can't achieve a level of mastery in any given subject. Many nurses are better healers than their counterpart doctors will ever be. Some of the smartest people I know don't have advanced degrees, and some of the foulest people I know have the title "doctor."

By anon92753 — On Jun 30, 2010

Whoever wrote this article needs to get their facts straight. First of all, the title of the degree is DMD, not DDM. Second of all, the training to become a dentist involves extensive courses focusing on the study of the entire body, not just the mouth. In fact, I'm pretty sure the first two years of med and dental school are pretty much the same -- at least they are where I go to school.

By anon91062 — On Jun 19, 2010

"Dr." is a title just like "Mr." and not an occupation.

By anon89979 — On Jun 13, 2010

Wow, this is ridiculous. I can't believe some people can be this pretentious. A phd is a doctor since they have a doctorate of philosophy. Enough said.

By anon86867 — On May 27, 2010

I do not understand why some of the people cannot get the fact of dentists being called a doctor.

A dentists like me is a doctor the moment I passed the boards given by the state.

By anon86375 — On May 24, 2010

I am a newly graduated dentist and damn it, I think I pretty well deserve my new title of Dr. And let me remind you that the M in DMD stands for Medical.

Dentists actually can save lives! We have intensive medical training about the whole body. How to diagnose cancer, treat heart attacks, severe allergic reactions, systemic infections, diabetic hypoglycemic reactions, drugs, drug interactions, etc. etc. etc. In fact, I do remember some time being devoted to treating gunshot wounds and subdural hematomas, and how to perform emergency cricothyroidotomies.

Why is it more impressive to the general population if, as an example, an orthopedic surgeon (M.D.) cuts into your arm to perform surgery and perhaps resets your ulna, and less impressive when a dentist cuts into your oral cavity and perhaps resets your jaw bone?

If anything it should be more impressive because the dentist's work is closer to vital structures!

My theory is that the general population is more disrespectful of the dental profession because dental disease is so widespread. Nearly everyone experiences some form of dental disease at some point in their lives.

Because it is so common, I think people may be more likely to dismiss it as banal and mundane. But, don't be so dismissive of the man or woman who wields a high speed handpiece!

By anon85571 — On May 20, 2010

I am a dentist because I like it and it pays well. I don't care what my patients call me. Come to me when your tooth hurts. Go to the MD when your back hurts. Thank you, come again!

By anon85131 — On May 19, 2010

If you earn a doctorate in anything, you are a doctor. There's a reason why I refer to my dentist, college professors, and physician as "Dr". Obviously, medical doctors are given the most respect and prestige, but that doesn't change the fact that pharmacists, optometrists, phds and dentists own doctorate degrees. you can't disagree with a fact lol.

By anon79678 — On Apr 23, 2010

I do not post as the norm, however in this case I must say that there are quite a few pompous individuals that have posted. "My education is better and more deserving than yours, please recognize how difficult it was for me. Whaaaa."

By anon78114 — On Apr 16, 2010

MDs and DOs should be referred to as doctors, not dentists.

By anon74027 — On Mar 30, 2010

In the UK - most (medical) doctors don't have a doctorate.(Different in other countries).

"Dr." is not a title or an entitlement -- it's simply a job description (like "Farmer" Jones).

Anyone with a PhD or other doctorate, is entitled to be called "Dr." But they aren't doctors unless they work as doctors.

Dentists are surgeons, an honorable profession needing no misleading title.

Surgeons in the medical profession are proud to be called "Mr." -- a title awarded only when they have a considerable degree of experience,

e.g. senior registrar or consultant.

Dentists are not doctors. They are dentists and should be proud of the fact.

By anon73762 — On Mar 29, 2010

Get real. A dentist is not a doctor -- end of discussion.

By anon69604 — On Mar 09, 2010

As simple as this: the PhD's do the research that leads to the practice procedures of the MD, DDS, etc.

Without the MD, DDS, etc. the PhD's are useless; without the PhD's the MD, DDS, etc. are blind.

Dr. D.A.K., MD, PhD

By anon67260 — On Feb 23, 2010

Wise-geek is not very wise! I'm a dentist and obviously a little biased.

Let me ask you this: Can the PhD. do surgery, remove tissue from a live patient, do the take gross anatomy and dissect human cadavers, can the prescribe medications, do they take boards (at least 3) to legally be allowed to perform invasive procedures on humans, can they place sutures (geek-wise, sutures are commonly referred to as stitches ).

Can they close an open sinus after extracting an upper back tooth, can they take a biopsy, can they implant a tooth after it's been knocked out?

I can, but again I'm just a dentist who spent almost 10 years in college and took three boards to get there.

Oh yeah, for all you naysayers: the next time you have a tooth ache, go to your college professor and get them to help you. After all, they're doctors too.

By anon66599 — On Feb 20, 2010

I'm sick to the back teeth of ridiculous comments (no pun intended). I have qualified in both Dentistry and Medicine in the UK and am currently an SpR in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery.

I can tell you now that those who state that dentists only know 'teeth' are very much mistaken! Dental degrees here in the UK are based heavily on medicine and its application to the oral cavity and the holistic management of the patient, medical conditions from polycystic kidney disease and the management of its associated end stage chronic renal failure (Transplants cause dental problems would you believe?) right up to rheumatoid arthritis and its management.

Who'd have thought the dentist would know that penicillin is contraindicated in those taking methotrexate? Well isn't it obvious when the dentist prescribes antibiotics?

Come on guys, get real! If you don’t understand what a dentist has to learn and apply in order to do their jobs then do not comment, I have the highest respect for my dental colleagues, not only because I spent five years studying for my first degree but their ability to spot early and refer is in many the case better than that of the general medical practitioners!

Perhaps dental graduates don't have the arrogance of those medical practitioners who think that they are the only ones deserving of the title "Dr?"

Dentists are as much of a doctor as a medical practitioner, and whoever disagrees does not understand the role of a dentist.

By anon65587 — On Feb 14, 2010

can a dentist practice a medical practice? What are the implications?

By anon64182 — On Feb 05, 2010

You are all just arguing semantics here. What does it matter what you are called? It matters what you do. Many of my junior college teachers refer to themselves are 'doctors' (biology, literature, etc).

If you are teaching at a junior college that costs $18 per unit, and you call yourself 'Dr. such-and-such', in the hopes that you might fool people into thinking you are a medical professional, then I see something wrong with that.

Sure, take the title, but don't expect people to think you are something that you aren't.

By anon63028 — On Jan 30, 2010

cleaning? that's only part of what they do, and for the most part its the hygienist doing the cleaning, not the dentist. they deal with a multitude of oral infections and jaw problems. they can place dental implants and cut and remove parts of your bone and tissue and place/graft that in another area of your mouth.

who you have any of the treatment done by anyone other than a doctor?

By anon62465 — On Jan 26, 2010

I taught computer classes in Hawaii for two years. At the beginning of each class, we teachers would write our names on the board. I simply printed my name, but another guy always wrote “Dr. Richards”. After a few weeks of wondering, I found out that he was a doctor, but his PhD was in music. Sigh.

I live in china presently, after 52 years in the US, and maybe this is another word I don’t understand, but I would go with “what is pretentious? for 500, Alex”.

By anon59944 — On Jan 11, 2010

I totally agree with anon549.

Anybody who deals with treating anything in the human body or animals is a doctor!

I'm a doctor of the oral cavity, teeth and jaws =D

By anon59005 — On Jan 05, 2010

when can you separate the mouth or head /neck from the body? don't be stupid. a drug prescribed by a dentist goes to the body in the same way as if an md wrote the script.

perio disease causes some of the complications in terms of heart disease as renal problems or diabetes, all of which a dentist needs to be cognizant of. please stop the ignorance.

By anon56577 — On Dec 15, 2009

In the UK things seem to be a little different:

My dentist has the title Dr. on his door but that's as far as it goes, he says, although he's been advised to use the title in a national attempt to heighten the profession, he feels he would be a bit pretentious to use the title.

The standard tradition in the uk is for medical doctors and PhDs only to use the title and I believe this is the same in Europe. Although in the UK there is some reluctance among holders and resentment from others for PhDs to use the title, where in Europe there seems to be no such resentment.

My father is a vet and he didn't use the title Dr. till he got a PhD.

In terms of other comments about difficulty of degrees: Well a PhD is completely different from a vet/dentist/doctor. I'm in my final year of my physics PhD and I can tell you that a PhD is about independence and application of one's knowledge in the search of 'several contributions to science'.

The other three degrees are taught, the student does not discover anything but he has to learn a lot, taught needs no more respect than the research degree or vice versa, they're just different.

I will say however in the case of taught degrees, vets do deserve something in front of their names which is not currently the case in the uk. As it is far harder to get on a vet course than a medical one, my mother would often tell her students to consider a career in medicine when they said they wanted to be vets as it is the hardest course to get on in the uk -- even harder than getting on oxford/cambridge courses.

By anon52490 — On Nov 14, 2009

Doctor is a title given to someone who is extremely educated, like an MD or dentist or someone with a PhD.

The title 'doctor' doesn't mean 'a person who understands the whole body and can uses that knowledge to save lives.'

i agree that GPs or FPs or specialists in that area learn way more than any dentist or optometrist or a person with a PhD. But, it doesn't mean that dentists or optometrists or people with a PhDs are not worthy of the Dr. X title.

i find it very selfish when 'real' Doctors say that are the only profession that should have that title.

By anon52339 — On Nov 13, 2009

I think we just need to differentiate between the title of doctor and the profession of being doctors. A lot of people have rightly earned the title of doctor through study, for example, of some obscure protein to get a Phd or through a dental degree.

However, although their title is doctor, their professions are scientist and dentist respectively. They are not doctors. The only doctors by profession are the medical doctors (MBBS here in Aust., MD in the states).

By anon51298 — On Nov 04, 2009

you guys are ridiculous. everyone knows MD's are the only "real" doctors out there. doctors just memorize thing? are you kidding me? have you ever even been in a hospital or even considered how many different things happen with the body? they are constantly on their toes saving lives. how could a PhD sitting in a room pipetting serum think he's actually worthy of the phrase? give me a break. 99 percent of the researchers out there find nothing useful.

until you start saving lives with your research, don't think you're a doctor. and to the one who says PhD's spend more time - only the ones who suck and go slow. you should get out in four years, same as doctors.

and dentists? Ha. let's not kid yourselves here, you work on teeth. period. you work on teeth! i don't know anyone who last time they were in a life and death situation called their orthodontist. sure you have a title, but let's call it what it is - someone who failed the mcat or was too scared to try.

when you think doctor, you think MD for a reason. they are the "real" doctors.

By anon47012 — On Sep 30, 2009

My opinion is the only ones worthy of being called doctor are the ones with the PhD's. But most do not insist on being called Doctor. Medical doctors just memorize a bunch of stuff. The PhD are the ones doing the really tough work and researching things.

By anon45765 — On Sep 20, 2009

they are docs.

By anon44645 — On Sep 09, 2009

everybody is a doctor, now go back to where you are!

By anon42957 — On Aug 24, 2009

My degree says *Doctor* of dental surgery and you're saying I'm not a doctor? It cannot get more obvious than the explicit title. LOL the level of ignorance is astounding.

By anon42761 — On Aug 23, 2009

Americans love titles and American human doctors love walking around in white coats with MD, etc. all over them.

There is a vast difference between a degree, no matter its length, and a PhD. One is about learning and the other is about applying that learning to research. A completely different level of application.

Want to be a doctor? Go do a doctorate. Even MD's don't go this far in their initial degree.

By anon42688 — On Aug 23, 2009

hi i m a medical student reading for final MBBS. I agree that the dentist/dental surgeons can be called as doctors and they are entitled use the prefix "Dr." by considering the training they receive in the university.

By anon36529 — On Jul 13, 2009

i was wondering if its possible to do Dentistry and after obtaining your bachelor degree... do a career in Medicine?

By anon35439 — On Jul 05, 2009

I am a fully qualified dentist, undergoing a medical degree in order to specialise in oral and maxillofacial surgery, in my opinion 'Dr' is just a courtesy title for graduates in both disciplines due to the length and academic nature of the training undertaken. The 'real' Dr's are those holding a PhD.

Having been on both degree courses, I feel the general public isn't fully aware of the nature of dental training and the need to understand the whole body and not just the mouth; it seems too difficult for many to envisage that systemic disease actually affects the oral cavity and that it is often the dentist who recognises these disturbances before the doctor, due to early intra-oral presentation.

Evidently dentists drill and fill teeth, but the extensive knowledge of head and neck anatomy, general pathology and oral medicine means that dentistry is essentially a branch of medicine that ‘looks after’ the head and neck, referring the more difficult ‘dentomedical’ cases to the appropriate specialist (oral and maxillofacial surgeon, oral medic, consultant restorative dentist endocrine surgeon etc), just as a general medical practitioner would refer a patient with a heart condition to the cardiologist.

Saying all of this I do consider myself as much a medic as a dentist but I feel that dentistry must be stood up for in this instance, and the ignorance of certain individuals shunned. Dentists are as much of a ‘Dr’ as a medic, just ask a medical graduate how much head and neck knowledge they have, and compare this to your dentist, you’ll find the dentist is more apt to diagnose in the vast majority of cases.

By anon31741 — On May 11, 2009


Why do you think people *pay* big bucks for dentistry?

A Ph.D is a Doctor of Philosophy. The next time you need your teeth worked on, I suggest you skip the dentist and hire a doc of

Philosophy to pull your tooth.

By anon31738 — On May 11, 2009

A dentist has gone to college, they've gone to 4 years of dental school and then may have done an internship as required by some states, or he/she

may have gone into a specialty field - tooth straightening (orthodontist) oral surgery & repair, endodontics, andmany other specialties.

Try to find a specialist for your specific need.

You would not go to your family doctor to do heart

surgery, so locate a specialist for specific mouth

problems, too. (And rest assured that he/she has

a doctoral degree.)

By anon31467 — On May 06, 2009

I will call anyone going into my mouth with a scalpel "Doctor". Especially when I am at their mercy in the chair.

By anon29631 — On Apr 05, 2009

To: anon27375

Your argument is illogical. What about DO's? They are doctors. Do your research. Opinion is not fact. Look it up. MDs, DOs, DMDs, DDSs and Vets are docs. You should be ashamed of misleading people.

By anon29630 — On Apr 05, 2009

Dentists definitely do not have honorary titles. They earned them through their dental programs and post graduate programs. The all have to complete a college or university bachelor's degree before even entering dental school. I would be insulted by some of these comments if I spent the time to earn my doctorate.

By anon29628 — On Apr 05, 2009

I am no genius, but 8 years of school at a minimum earns that degree. You better refer to him or her as doctor.

By anon29539 — On Apr 03, 2009

My dentist diagnosed my oral cancer so yes she is a doctor for sure.

By anon29538 — On Apr 03, 2009

At hospitals in the operating room there are attendings and residents that are dentists. They do *not* have to work under an MD but can operate using their DMD or DDS license.

By anon29537 — On Apr 03, 2009

A PhD is an academic degree that can be obtained in various fields. They earn their "doctorate" in that field. The question here is not about the prefix doctor but Doctor with a big D. Yes it's true. MD, DO, DMD and DDS are all worthy of the title Doctor. Most dental programs today are closely integrated with the medical programs at their respective institutions.

By anon29536 — On Apr 03, 2009

If you can write scripts for medicine (which dentists can) and have hospital privileges to operate in the OR (which some dentists do) or legally cut a into a person in any way for that matter... then you are deserving of the title Doctor. No, they aren't MD's... but they earned that title so you should respect it.

By anon27423 — On Feb 27, 2009

MD, DO, PO, DDS, DMD, and DVMs have all completed 8 years of college. These are the only Doctors who can prescribe medicine and can perform surgery. Prescribing medicine is the art and science of a physician. Surgery is the art and science of a surgeon. That’s where the tern physician and surgeons come from. If you’re treating living beings and animals with medicine and surgery you’re a doctor.

By anon27375 — On Feb 27, 2009

Medics can't be called Doctor is they have an MBBS or MBCHB, they should then only call themselves "Dr" if they have an MD!

By anon23162 — On Dec 17, 2008

i think it is more appropriate to call the dentist "oral physician" because he is not dealing only with teeth and gum, but with oral cavity which include also the tongue, buccal mucosa, hard pal.

By anon20013 — On Oct 23, 2008

lets call a spade a spade - dentists are not doctors and should not use the term - it is a nonsense to do so.

By anon10382 — On Mar 26, 2008

A physician as defined in 1861r of the Social Security Act, includes medical doctors, doctors of osteopathy, doctor of dental medicine and dental surgery, optometry, podiatry, and chiropractic medicine.

By anon3344 — On Aug 24, 2007

The title doctor can also be given to someone who holds a doctorate degree such as a Ph.D in a non-medical subject, such as philosophy, psychology or geography.

The title 'Dr' is often given to those with medical qualifications, for example a bachelor's degree or diploma, although the individual does not have a 'doctorate' as such. In such cases this would be an 'honorary' title.

By anon549 — On Apr 27, 2007

A dentist is a doctor of the oral cavity, teeth and jaws.

A vet is also a doctor, of animals.

A Physician is also a doctor, of humans.

DOCTOR: a person licensed to practice medicine, as a physician, surgeon, dentist, or veterinarian.

American Heritage Dictionary

American Heritage Stedman's Medical Dictionary

Merriam-Webster's Medical Dictionary

Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen


With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a SmartCapitalMind contributor, Tricia...
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