What is Dentistry?
is the branch of the healing arts and sciences devoted to maintaining the health of the teeth, gums, and other hard and soft tissues of the oral cavity and adjacent structures. A dentist is a scientist and clinician dedicated to the highest standards of health through
- and treatment of oral diseases and conditions.
The notion of dentists as those who merely “fill teeth” is out-of-date. Today, dentists are highly sophisticated health professionals who provide a wide range of care that contributes enormously to the quality of their patients’ day-to-day lives by preventing tooth decay, periodontal disease, malocclusion, and oral-facial anomalies. These and other oral disorders can cause significant pain, improper chewing or digestion, dry mouth, abnormal speech, and altered facial appearance.
Dentists are also instrumental in early detection of oral cancer and systemic conditions of the body that manifest themselves in the mouth, and they are at the forefront of a range of new developments in cosmetic and aesthetic practices.
The dental profession includes not only those who provide direct patient care, but those who teach, conduct research, and work in public and international health. All of these individuals are vital links in the health care delivery system, necessary to promote social and economic change as well as individual well-being.
Dentists understand the importance of and have made contributions to serving both disadvantaged populations and populations with limited access to dental care. It is not surprising, then, that the dental profession is very involved in influencing current health care reform efforts to ensure that the importance of oral health is understood and that oral health care is available to everyone.
Faculty members in dental medicine schools play an especially critical role because they influence an entire field of study and contribute to shaping the profession in the United States and around the world. Dental school faculty are responsible for bringing new discoveries into the classroom; they stimulate students’ intellect and help determine the future of oral health care through dental medicine.