When you go to your dentist, how do you address them? Do you call them Doctor or just say ‘Ms. or Mr. Smith’? Is addressing your dentist correctly a big deal for you? Well, apparently, some really take it seriously. Let us answer a common question people think about when they visit a dentist: are dentists doctors too?

Are dentists doctors: The title topic

It has been a customary gesture for patients to call their dentists Doctor A or Doctor B. It may be because people are used to addressing someone who checks up on them as a doctor. But how did this habit started?

In dental school, a student can either finish a degree in DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) or DMD (Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry or Doctor of Dental Medicine). Both courses mean the same thing; they studied the same curriculum, and they have the same education an aspiring dentist should have. It is only the universities’ prerogative who offers these degrees which title to choose and give their graduates. This fact is the reason why some dentists have a DDS in their names, and some have DMD. But, again, both are the same.

These two titles also gave rise to the notion that dentists should also be called doctors. They finished a degree with a Doctor on it, so they are entitled to use that title as well.

Are dentists doctors: The confusion

Some people who look down at dentists say that they should not be called doctors because:

a.    Dentists did not study as much as doctors did.

b.    Dental procedures are less invasive than medical procedures.

c.    There are no life-threatening procedures dentists perform, so they do not ‘save lives’ as doctors do.

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The question “are dentists doctors?” is becoming a big issue in the professional world, which are also aggravated by the launch of the movies “The Hangover” and “Roadies.” In fact, the Advertising Standards Authority now prohibits dentists to use the title Dr. in their advertisements because it is somewhat ‘misleading’.

Are dentists doctors: Australia’s take

While people are confused if calling their dentists as doctors as well is no big deal, for the Australian Dental Board. In a document titled ‘Obligations of dental practitioners regarding use of title’ published in October 2012, it states“Only dental practitioners who are dentists or specialist dentists should use the title ‘doctor’ in advertising and a dental practitioner who proposes to use the title ‘doctor’ should make it clear that they are not registered as a medical practitioner or in a division of the dental practitioner register which they are not.” The regulatory board also stated that there is no prohibition stated under the National law from the use of the title Doctor for dentists. This information allows dentists to be addressed as Doctor as a common honorary title.

So, are dentists doctors?

Well, the answer is yes and no. Yes, they can be addressed as doctors as a sign of respect for their profession and their services that help maintain our dental health. Because, isn’t your dental cavity part of your body and your overall general health?

However, dentists should not be confused with medical doctors. Their fields of expertise and experience are very different from each other. We should just give them the same honour as a sign of courtesy and respect for their professions.

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