Dentistry is a profession that combines science and technology with helping people to enhance and maintain their oral health. As health care practitioners, dentists diagnose, treat, and help prevent diseases, injuries and malformations of the teeth and gum. Two classifications for dentists include: Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S.); and Doctor of Medical Dentistry (D.M.D.) (there is no difference between the two degrees).
Dental education programs are four years of in-class, pre-clinical, and clinical instruction. The first two years usually cover the basic sciences and the last two years, diagnosing oral disease, surgery, and clinical study. In the fourth year, students typically must complete a dental rotation externship. In addition to general dentistry, dental schools may offer specialized postgraduate programs of study, in areas such as oral and maxillofacial surgery, orthodontics, or pediatric dentistry, which can take an additional two to six years to complete. In addition, some dental schools offer joint degree programs that can include Master’s & Ph.D. degrees in oral biology & the basic sciences, as well as an MPH and MBA.