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DentistryDentistry is the practice of dental science. In most countries, to become a qualified dentist, one needs several years of training in a university (usually 4-8) and some practical experience working with actual patients' dentition.
In Australia, graduating dentists have either a B.D.S. (Bachelor of Dental Surgery) or B.D.Sc degree (Bachelor of Dental Science).
In the United States, dentists obtain either a D.D.S. or D.M.D. degree after 4 years of postgraduate education. (That is another 4 on top of the 4 years of an undergraduate college.)
Specialties in dentistry such as orthodontics (straightening of teeth), oral and maxillofacial surgery, pedodontics (treatment for children), periodontics (treatment of gum disease), prosthodontics (replacement of missing teeth by prostheses such as dentures, bridges and dental implants), conservative dentistry (restoration of existing teeth), endodontics (root canal therapy), dental public health (study of dental epidemiology and social health policies), forensic odontology (gathering and use of dental evidence in law), oral radiology and oral pathology (study of oral and dentally related diseases) would require usually between 2-3 years of further formal university training after dental school. Specialists in these fields might be designated registrable (U.S. "Board Eligible") and can sometimes lay claim to exclusive titles such as orthodontist, oral surgeon, pedodontist, periodontist, prosthodontist upon satisfying certain local (U.S. "Board Certified") registry requirements.
Other dental "specialties" exists where no post-graduate formal university training is required : cosmetic dentistry, dental implant, temporal-mandibular joint therapy. These usually require the attendance of one or more "hotel courses" that typically last for one to several days. There is usually no restrictions on allowing these dentists to call themselves specialists in these fields when the "specialist" titles are not restrictive and registrable titles controlled by the local dental licensing bodies.
Druing the first half of the 19th century dentistry expanded rapidly. In 1867 the Ontario Dental Association was formed and in 1868 they founded Canada's first dental school in Toronto, the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario. Originally not considered a true science the University of Toronto agreed to be affiliated with the dental school. As time passed other Canadian universities also created dentistry programmes.
The patron saint of dentists is Saint Apollonia, martyred in Alexandria by having all her teeth violently extracted, not, one would have thought, such a very desirable exempla.
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