Are Dentists Doctors?

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The question “are dentists doctors”  is a public dilemma that raises concerns not only between people affiliated with the medical field but ordinary individuals too, who happen to cross the paths of dentists occasionally.

Dentists are often inquired and called out regarding this very subject and they’ve to hear people say that “Dentists are not doctors” Or “You’re a dentist, not a doctor.” Remarks like these often tend to circulate in the air and bother the doctors of dental surgery. 

Accurate scenario portraying the are dentists doctors query: 

You’d often find yourself proclaiming dentists as doctors and then feeling quite stumped as to whether you’d refer to your dentist as a Dr. Or Mr. While several people do not view dentistry as aristocratic as medical practitioners are perceived, you’d find many keeping a uniform approach to agreeing that dentists are doctors.

According to Google Dictionary, “Doctors are individuals who are licensed to treat people who are unwell.”

This is a very brief and precise definition that sums up the whole idea behind the word “doctors.”

However, to get to know more about who dentists are, additional information on the respective topics, and to find an answer to your query “are dentists doctors”, proceed forward and let us help you reach an answer!

How are Dentists Different Than Doctors?

Who Are Dentists?

Dentists, known as doctors of oral health or dental surgeons, are practitioners who assist with all issues regarding your oral health and help you keep your dental hygiene intact.

Dentistry is the practice of medical care given to patients suffering from diseases and other complications that surround or affect the mouth, teeth, and gum areas. The care and health of your mouth are equally significant as your body’s health and should be prioritized in the same manner. 

Dentists are the ones who assist you when you visit clinics for checkups. They perform an examination of your overall mouth, from checking your teeth to testing the condition of your gums, all this is done by dentists. They are the ones who guide you with whether your teeth require braces or root canals or extractions and so on. 

What are the Responsibilities of Dentists?

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Among a variety of responsibilities, these are the gist of them:

  1. Hearing the patient out for their problem (if any)
  2. Performing oral examinations for inspecting dental health.
  3. Conducting diagnosis for your oral problems.
  4. Reaching to conclusions after examinations.
  5. Recommending possible treatments for your underlying problems.
  6. Performing needed procedures
  7. Keeping a check on the maintenance of your whole mouth.
  8. To prescribe you remedies and medication for preservation of your oral health.

What is the dentist degree called? 

The degree of dentistry goes by two names; Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) OR Doctor of Dental Medicine (DDM), both of which have the word doctor included. Furthermore, they have a Masters of Dentistry as well. 

What is the Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Bachelors in Dental Surgery (BDS) degree? 

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The BDS or DDS degree is a four-year undergraduate program in addition to doing a house jobs for a year. The students study biomedical sciences such as pathology or pharmacology for the first two years.

The next two years provide training for laboratories and clinics and in the fifth additional year, you individually implement what you’ve been taught so far. 

After this, you have to clear the National Board Dental Examination, a regional clinical board exam, and state laws jurisprudence exam to certify for practicing dentistry. 

Accreditation of Dentistry

The Accreditation of Dentistry is handled by Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) which evolves, expands, and implements the standards of accreditation and closely observes the quality and progress of dental education. 

Career Options for the Doctor of Dental Surgery

Completion of the DDS or BDS degree opens opportunities for these career options;

  1. To become a researcher in dental medicine. 
  2. Work as a dentist at a private or public clinic / hospital
  3. Pursue your interest towards academic dentistry 
  4. Become a dental hygienist 
  5. Dental lab technician 
  6. Dental assistant 

Let’s move towards understanding who doctors actually are;

Who are Doctors? 

Just like dentists, doctors focus on the physical well-being of the whole human body. They are individuals who study medicine, gain experience and work towards maintaining the physical and mental health of people through diagnosis, treatment, prognosis, and other impairments.

They are also known by the names of a Physician, Medical Doctor, Medical Practitioner but most commonly a Doctor. 

What are the Responsibilities of Doctors:

To understand what the doctors actually do, we need to know their responsibilities;

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  1. Hearing the patients out regarding their issue of concern
  2. Performing examinations to get to the root of issue
  3. Ordering tests for further inspection
  4. Conducting possible diagnosis for your problem after test results
  5. Reaching to conclusions after thorough inspection
  6. Recommending all the possible treatments for your problem
  7. Keeping a check on the health of the patient along with the help of Nurses, Physician assistants or EMTs
  8. To further direct you towards other specialised doctors or possible care that you can take to preserve your well-being. 

What is the Doctor’s Degree called

There are a variety of degrees that a person who’s called a doctor can have such as Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (M.B.B.S), or Doctor of Medicine (M.D). After their completion of their undergraduate degree, they further specialize in other fields of medicine and complete their masters in it.

What is the Doctor’s Degree

The Doctors degree is a four-year undergraduate program in medical school after which students have to enroll in a residency program that lasts around 3-7 years. To be called a licensed doctor, it takes up to 7 to 8 years according to the field you specialized segment of medicine.

You need to first pass the undergraduate degree, complete your years of residency, complete your master’s degree, then different countries follow a different procedure for giving the license to practice medicine legally and to be called a Physician. 

Accreditation of Doctors:

The primary body for physicians or doctors is the American Medical Association (AMA) which looks after and provides assurance of the health care services provided by the doctors of the nations.

Career options for Doctors:

These are the different specializations that doctors do;

  1. Dermatology
  2. Cardiology
  3. Pathology 
  4. Radiology
  5. Palliative Medicine
  6. Urology
  7. Endocrinology 
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In the field of Surgery

  1. Cosmetic surgery
  2. Neurosurgery
  3. Surgical oncology
  4. Orthopedic Surgery

And the list goes on.

Get a more detailed overview of Doctors here

Differences between Dentists & Doctors

  1. Their identity:

Doctors focus on the well-being of the whole physical and mental health of the human body and just like that, Dentists focus on the well-being of the oral health of the human body.
Do you see much difference?
Frankly, I do not. Both the respective fields of study have a pivot of their own but then both of them meet at the same point; The Well-being of the human body. Dentists and Doctors both attend their own patients, check up on the patients themselves and reach a conclusion as well. 

  1. Their responsibilities:

From listening to the patient’s problems, performing medical examinations, identifying the root cause by diagnosis, recommending treatment for it to keeping a check on the maintenance of their physical or oral health, all the responsibilities are somewhat the same.

There are without a doubt more responsibilities that come with being a surgeon but just like them, even dentists perform oral surgical procedures, whether that be a root canal, fixing of dentures, braces, scaling, etc. 

  1. Their degree names:

Here you’d find a major difference; the dentists have one or more but the same degree that they can achieve and that is BDS or MS in dentistry. However, the Doctors degree has a vast variety from MBBS, MD, EdD, JD, and further specializations into the years. 

  1. About their degree:

Doctors undeniably have to devote a huge part of their life to earn a legal license to practice medicine; 4 years undergraduate program, 3 to 7 years in residency, 3 to 4 years for masters. Summing up the average reaches around 12 years.

Whereas, dentistry takes up to 4 years in an undergraduate program, 1 to 2 years under supervision, and 2-4 years of masters (Varies in different countries).

Summing up the average of their education reaches to around 8 to 9 years but dentists can practice dentistry even after their supervision years and hence it requires comparatively fewer years than Doctor of Medicine.

  1. Career options:

Dentistry has concise career options. Most people who do dentistry become practicing dentists at their own private clinics or public dental clinics. Whereas, the doctor’s degree earns you an expansive range of career options.

You can choose from becoming a dermatologist to a physician or a physiotherapist or a pharmacist and if pursuing surgery, you can become a cosmetic surgeon, neurosurgeon, gynecologist and the list goes on. 

The title; Doctor (Dr.)

As a matter of fact, those who complete their Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy) are the true holders of the entitlement “Doctor Dr.”. However, with years health professionals started using the prefix Dr. before their names and now it’s widely used by surgeons, pharmacists, dentists, professors, etc. 

The Government of several countries like Canada or India to name a few, have declared that Practitioners of Medicine, Dentistry all can use the prefix Dr. along with their names but with a complete course of education. 

For a better comprehension of the title “Doctor”, click here

The question comes, why did the question “Are Dentists Doctors” arise? 

It is pretty clear that medical students studying Doctor of Medicine or Surgery will definitely be called Doctors as declared by Governments of nations or Accreditation Authorities but there came a wave of uncertainty when some nations as whole and individuals said that Dentists aren’t doctors while some said dentists are doctors. This created a commotion that is still unsolved. 

The justification that the public gives against the upheaved question “are dentists doctors” is that physicians and surgeons are very trained, have spent many years to become practicing physicians/surgeons, they practice the art of medicine more and hence deserve the title of “Dr.” but in my opinion, the physicians can’t gain the respect and acknowledgment of their hard work with the prefix Dr. 

The definition of doctor clearly states that any medical practitioner licensed to perform treatments on patients is a doctor which includes; physicians, surgeons, veterinarians, and dentists.

Yes, there are differences in the field of their study; dentists only avail of medical education for the first two years of their bachelor’s degree, and physicians devote their lives around it but that is why they are known as physicians and individuals associated with dentistry are known as dentists. 

They have their distinct proprietorship but are both from the medical field, assisting people’s prosperity and welfare and performing treatments when needed.

Dentists deserve the prestigious acknowledgment of being associated with the medical field and hence, Dentists are Doctors, Physicians are Doctors and in the enormity of this subject, Dr. is just a prefix which shouldn’t be given much account to. 


We have concluded all the differences and how the commotion of dentists’ doctors really commenced. With that, we leave to you your entitlement of opinion if you believe we should consider dentists as doctors only.

This is a long debate that can continue for ages but I’ve given you my stance on the basis of logic and research.

I do believe Dentists are Doctors and that does not depreciate the value of physicians or surgeons as they have their own spot in the domain of medicine.