Oral Health Group
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You’re Only a Dentist…


June 1, 2010
by Bruce R. Pynn, MSc, DDS, FRCD(C)



I was relaxing on the plane during a recent transatlantic flight; deeply focused on my book when I heard, “is there a doctor on board”? As no one responded, my wife, Tania, sitting across from me, gave me the look and told me to go help out. So I walked to the back of plane where a passenger was lying in the aisle, apparently fainting after standing up too fast en route to the washroom. I told the flight attendant I was an oral surgeon and offered my assistance. After a quick assessment and a few suggestions, it became apparent that the passenger was OK and just needed a cold cloth and a few minutes to gather his bearings, just as it has happened in the office on more than one occasion. It was just at this point that I had “The Hangover” movie moment, a second crusty flight attendant made her way back to the commotion and tapped the other stewardess on the shoulder and said “is this guy a doctor”, which garnered an over the shoulder response of, “No, he’s just an oral surgeon”. Thus, I was dismissed.

As I walked back to my seat, I had to laugh to myself as I felt like Stu (played beautifully by Ed Helms) when he asked to see his pal’s chart, Phil (played by Bradley Cooper) so they could retrace their steps at the hospital from the chaos of the previous night

Stu: “Do you mind if I take a look, I’m actually a doctor.”

Doctor: “Yeah you said that several times last night but really, you’re just a dentist.”

(http://www.entertonement.com/clips/jvbkknvsnn–But-really-you‘re-just-a-dentist)

One of the other quotes from the movie was when the boys were checking into their hotel in Las Vegas and the clerk is confirming Stu’s reservation.

Phil: “Doctor Price? Stu, you’re a dentist. Don’t try and get fancy.”

Stu: “It’s not fancy if it’s true.”

Phil: “He’s a dentist, don’t get too excited. And if someone has a heart attack you should still call 911.”

(http://www.entertonement.com/clips/fnqpzrgqry–He‘s-a-dentist)

Poor Stu, the dentist, was sadly getting mocked throughout the movie.

When I hear someone say “He’s not a real doctor he’s only a dentist” or speak words to that effect, I think that most of the time these words are spoken in jest. The speaker is being facetious and goading the dentist to show his/her insecurity and adopt a defensive posture. However in this age of enlightenment, only an unintelligent individual can seriously believe that dentists are not real doctors.

We may not be doctors of medicine but we have, however, earned the right to be called doctor since our education and training has endowed us with special knowledge and skills worthy of the title. No dentist should ever have to feel inadequate or unworthy of the term doctor. We come by it honestly, after many years of intensive study and hard work. We have earned the appellation doctor and the next time you hear someone say “oh, you’re not a real doctor, you’re only a dentist,” walk away smiling, content in the knowledge that one cannot reason with an uneducated person, nor should you try! oh

Note: The ‘Hangover’ movie was screwball comedy produced by Lengendary Pictures and released in the summer 2009 and has, to date, brought in $500 million in worldwide box office revenue.

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44 Comments » for You’re Only a Dentist…
  1. bob walter says:

    Dentists are doctors. The problem is that they misslead people by only ever using half their title “I am a doctor”, instead of “I am a doctor of dentistry”.
    In emergent situation, people ask for a “doctor” it is implied that they are seeking help from someone who has a complete education in the medical sciences. Sure, if nobody else is on board, I would heed the advice of an OMFS. Strutting around calling yourself a surgeon or a doctor is only half true. In emergent situations, medical physcians consider neurological, cardiac , digestive system, cancer pathology ect…. the list goes on. A physcian has a comprehensive understanding of pathophysiology. A dentist will consider the pathology that is limited to the scope of their education and training.
    In emergent situations, dental doctors should be transparent about their license. For all you know this person could have had a severe neuorological issue that a trained medical doctor would recognize. If you want the title of “doctor” for the sake of feeling like you are a medically trained physcian, then you should have gone to med school.

    • Eloise Gomes says:

      Absolutely not true. I’m in dental school and our anatomy, pathology, pathophysiology curriculum are exactly the same as of the medical students. We also have internal medicine, psychiatry, ophthalmology, otorrhynolarangology psychiatry and a few other general medical specialities (not for as long as medics but we still learn the essentials of each) all of that on top of our own specialities. We spend more time in university each day, we have more subjects per unit time, we study for the same amount of time (6 years) to obtain a DMD degree as they do for an MD degree so we are both equally prepared for emergency medicine as far as an off hospital occasion is concerned. The general public simply isn’t aware of our training but we have actually have a lot more to tackle during university because we do general and dental medicine simultaneously. At least where either study.

      • Peter Gonzalez says:

        I a practicing OMFS and had this conversation with an MD colleague. I know where the author of this article is coming from. But there are lines to be drawn. Medical students are listening to heart sounds with their stethoscope in the 1st week of medical school. In Dental school, we did not practice this skill. There are some similarities in the initial basic sciences the first two years – but the courses are not identical. Medical students have to memorize every single nerve, artery, and vein in the foot when taking gross anatomy. Many top notch DMD and DDS programs teach a cadaver lab component, including the neck, head, abdomen, and thorax. However, no dental school goes into the extreme depth because it is not necessary for the profession. A dentist, will never operate on a foot. That being said, dental students do take pathology, cardiac and neurological physiology while in school. The pre-clincal years are similar – in some areas dental students go into more detail – like oral physiology, whereas medical students go into more depth in other courses. Medical students go on after medical school for 3-10 years of residency and fellowships to continue to utilize basic sciences like “pathology, cardiac and neurophysiology”, and applying clinical skills like listening to heart sounds and doing thousands of neurological exams. Dental students for the most part, enter a residency and do not continue to use their medical skills per say, but dental clinical skills. The only exception is if you elect towards and OMFS career. In that case, you practice surgical skills just like the general surgeons practice. However, General surgeons and Emergency Medical physicians will “crack-a-chest” to massage a heart during an emergent situation. An OMFS would go to jail for attempting something like that. However, some OMFS, might have more clinical experience than a radiologist MD who rarely utilizes medical clinical skills.

        So yes, Dentists are doctors, and can contribute to emergent situations. However, medical “physicians” (MD/DO) are as a whole, more clinically prepared for emergencies and I agree with the comment that we should be transparent. I have no idea what Wolff Parkinson-White-Syndrome looks like – even if I had to memorize it 15 years ago during physiology. An MD is better suited to considering the vast arrays of pathology because that is what they practice on a day to day basis.

        • Dental Student says:

          “However, no dental school goes into the extreme depth because it is not necessary for the profession. A dentist, will never operate on a foot.”

          I’m a dental student at Columbia University, and we, in addition to our colleagues at Harvard, do in fact get this medical education because our schools are integrated with our respective medical schools. We are med students for the first two years of our curriculum. We dissect our cadavers head-to-toe, learn cardiology from cardiologists, renal from nephrologists, etc., and learn how to give a complete physical examination (even though we are not permitted to perform one by ourselves, of course), among other things. We get the same preclinical education as med students because we are literally sit the same lecture hall all day taking the same classes, and we study together.

          • 4th year Dental student says:

            OMFS is a “real doctor”
            As of dentists, it actually depends on your dental school.

          • Severn Traughtson says:

            I am not certain that dental students “literally sit in the same classes”. Maybe they take the same basic science classes (physiology/biochem)… But during the 1st two years Med students are also taking classes listening to patient’s hearts with stethoscopes. Doing vaginal and rectal exams. Med students take classes specifically on creating a differential diagnosis and integrating a physical exam. During this time, dental students are learning how more detail on dental exam techniques. So no, the curriculums are absolutely not the same. There is significant overlap, but dental students are not groomed to physically examine a patient in the same way as med students – which serves as a foundation for nearly every specialty a physician goes into.

            I hear it all the time. Firemen think they are basically doctors because they know how to take vital signs and perform a tracheotomy.
            Too often dental students assume they are also “physicians” because they take a few off the same classes and learn cardiology from the same cardiologists.
            If dentists are basically physiciains. Than MD/DOs are basically dentists – based on the premise that medical schools also teach oral hygiene/cancer/diabetes courses.

          • Robert says:

            That’s great! But did you do a residency training. What most MD’s will tell you is that vast majority of their learning and clinical skills were enhanced in residency. As a medical student the first two years doesn’t mean much. In your third and fourth years there is more hands on experience in the core medical specialties. Do dental students do 30 hour calls on internal medicine? Do you do a residency? We aren’t talking about reading the same books but putting things into practice. Yes you are a doctor but you are not a physician. Deal with it.

          • Robert says:

            I would take a paramedic or ER nurse over a dentist any day in an emergency situation outside of a hospital.

      • Robert says:

        Yah the difference is that after our MDs we do an additional 3-6 years of training to be called physicians.

        • Evan says:

          OMFS Residency is a 4 year program after after dental school. There is also a 6 years track that offers an MD as well because they actually complete the last two years of medical school and take medical boards. You would really rather have a paramedic (2 years of school at most) work on you than someone who went to school for 8-10 years after college?

  2. Elizabeth McGrady, PhD says:

    You are on a plane and a 55 year old gentelmen suddenly starts acting strange, and the wife asks for a doctor.
    Is a dentist going to have the experience of practicing on thousands of people how to perform a complete cranial nerve exam? Is it a stroke? What is the stroke scale? How do you know? Do you tell the pilot to land so an ER can push TpA?

    Just because dental students take pathophysiology and dentists can recognize oral diabetes and oral cancer, doesn’t mean they are trained and prepared for emergencies.

  3. Dr. R Richter says:

    It’s about educating the public to respect the nature of what we do so they may take it more seriously and seek our care regularly . It’s also about respect ; self respect and respect for our profession. When someone asks me at a party or gathering , if I’m a doctor? , I reply by saying “yes , my field is dental medicine “. Do I get the standard ” oh , you’re not a real doctor ” ? Of course I do . I just smile and say, ” I’m not a physician nor is my field Emergemcy medicine. No more than an Opthamologist ( my best friend is one ) or a Dermatologist . I then say , ” let me give you some examples.
    “The lady who fell on her teeth, fracturing the bone around them and knocking them back so she couldn’t close her mouth went to an emergency room and was told to see me. I took a dental CAT scan , saw where the fracture was. Then I pressed on the fracture bone and pulled her tooth back into position , did root canal therapy on the exposed nerve , splinted her loose teeth, bonded back the shape and picked the fragments out of her lip . She the. told me “thank you so much . You are a talented doctor . I didn’t know you could do this . ” I then give some examples of Oral cancer diagnosis and the thanks I later receive for saving a life by ” being such a good doctor “. I then re-emphasoze I have little to no training in Emergency medicine and like my opthamologist and dermatologist friends , have not had any personal experience in this in many years . The person at the gathering usually then has that bright eyed look of sudden enlighten. So you see, I have done my job of bringing importance and dignity to a vital component of health care and walked away with a little more respect as well 😉

    • Robert says:

      Yah the difference is that your friends that are opthamologist and dermatologist actually saw and treated patients in Emergency situations (chest pain, strokes, trauma, surgery, dka, allergic reactions, etc) and you didn’t. They haven’t done it in awhile but at one point they delivered a baby. They were oncall when someone crashed and they ran a code. These are things that you don’t do in your training.

      • Dr. B - DMD/MD says:

        Maybe you should google the 6 year OMFS residency curriculum… Oral surgeons (6 year) as part of their MD degrees deliver babies when rotating in OB/GYN, treat patients in Emerg Med, and if practice in a hospital setting are closer to that field of work than any opthamologist or dermatologist…

      • Sorry, I must’ve forgotten when you went to dental school and know everything about the curriculum.

        Why do you have to make one field look better than the other? Both involve immense loads of hard work and dedication to succeed, intelligence and refined skill.

        Sure, dentists are not trained as much in emergency situations but, likewise, MDs are not trained in emergency dental situations. Each field has its own specialty, but we all have studied the basics of medicine, for that is what our specialty knowledge is based upon.

        The thing is, both professions are essential to the wellbeing of individuals, but shame on you for looking down upon the dental profession (when it really seems like you don’t have much knowledge about what it concerns). All healthcare professions should be supporting one another, for, after all, what good comes out of the professions being in competition?

        I truly don’t understand what you have to gain from being so negative toward the dental field.

  4. Shawn Lester says:

    (I am not a doctor, just an average nobody). To the above comment. Based on the reviews and this article, it sounds like nobody is saying that “dentists are NOT doctors”. They absolutely are. The do have a scope of knowledge about oral cancer, facial nerve injury, and diabetes ect… but I presume that their scope of knowledge regarding emergencies is less than that of any American Physician. My dentist told me some interesting stuff about my diet, based on my mouth. So yah, its important to have dentists are part of the health care team… However, if I faint on a plane and say “I need a doctor”, it means I want a Licensed Physician. Not an oral surgeon. I would still rather an Opthomalogist evaluate me because they still go through school, rotations, and residencies where they are exposed to a greater array of emergencies. Dentists should be vocal about their ability to recognize diabetes… but thats 1 of a billion diseases. The line must be drawn. During emergencies (fainting on a plane) “I need a doctor” literally translates “I need a medical physician”… not “I need an oral surgeon to evaluate my chronic eating habits or tell me if I have cancer”.

  5. Mendel says:

    I think the training of dentists vary from country to country. In my country (Nigeria), dental students have similar trainings with medical students, taught by the same lecturers and write the same exams with the same grading systems both in the pre-clinical (biochemistry,physiology,anatomy, pharmacology, pathology) and the clinicals (internal medicine- in all the units, surgery, psychiatry, ENT, ophthalmology, emergency medicine, radiology etc). Dental students undergo general pre-clinical and clinical training rather than specialized training. They add to these, their dental curriculum.

    So, it will be outrightly condescending and foolish to say they are not doctors after receiving these training. They also do same rotations in internal medicine and surgery during their postgraduate training

  6. sara issac says:

    yes a dentist is a doctor…but it depends on school or college..many people trained as a technicians after grade 10 or 12 .they do not trained properly. thats why one can think dentist is not a doctor. dentist is called a doctor when it hold a proper degree.

    • Anant says:

      You call someone a dentist when he has that degree.what you are speaking of is a dental assistant or a dental nurse,dental technician etc etc..

  7. James says:

    This is an odd conversation. If you have a PhD then you’re a doctor – by definition.
    A medical doctor is a ‘doctor’ by name but not in the technical sense. A dentist is not a doctor in any sense unless they have a PhD. Then they’re are a doctor of philosophy in dentistry.
    This is not my opinion, it’s a fact. This topic isn’t amenable to contention, you’re either a doctor or you’re not.

    • Dr. B - DMD/MD says:

      Your logic literally makes ZERO sense… A dentist is not a doctor unless they have a PhD?… So I take it by your logic, a PhD is a doctor because is stands for doctor of philosophy? Last time I checked, a licensed dentist carries either a DMD or a DDS… both of which stand for DOCTOR of Dental Medicine and DOCTOR of dental surgery. So once again, by your logic, what you meant to say was a dentist is a doctor… sheesh… and since we are talking about oral surgeons, you should maybe look up the curriculum to be an oral surgeon… many carry an MD degree as well (Medical DOCTOR) just incase you didn’t know… 😉

    • lol guessing by your logic you have none of the degrees you mentioned in your comment

  8. Volton mjori says:

    Dentists absolutely should be considered physicians. I am in dental school. We learn how to save lives by recognizing diabetes. Most MDs wont look in your mouth. I will. Most physcicians aren’t aware that bacteria in your mouth can cause endocarditidus, they just give you pain meds and send you home. Believe me, dental students are equally prepared to save lives. We can do OMFS for crying out loud which is basically brain surgery (if you consider the nerves (CN 5 and 7) as extensions of the brain). I dont know where CN 3 is and I dont care because an MD brain surgeun probably doesnt know where the mouth nerves are.
    If someone is crashing/choking on a plane. I will be there to stick a knife into their neck to tracheotomize them. I got to disect the head for my dental school so I am familiar with the process of cutting and the anatomy of the neck, so yah, I can save lives.

    • Zachary says:

      This is funny because everything you said about physicians is 100% false. We know all about endocarditis and we also treat it! And we can listen to heart sounds. We monitor A1Cs and blood glucose and inform patients if they are prediabetic and offer then lifestyle modifications and treatments. Yes, dentists are important, and yes they save lives too. But dentists are not even remotely equally prepared to save lives as physicians. We know all the cranial nerves, it is something the boards love to examine us on. Oh, and a basic head to toe exam requires us to look in the mouth, grab the tongue, feel the tongue, the gums, and cheeks, look at the tonsils…open your mouth and say AHH! In medical school not only do we dissect the head but the entire body.

      Also, pretty sure performing a tracheotomy is not in the scope of practice of a dentist, so there might be legal ramifications to that. Additionally, if you have an emergent situation with someone choking I would recommend that you should do a cricothyrotomy, not a tracheotomy.

      • RudraBhairavi says:

        “Look in the mouth, grab the tongue, look at tonsils, ….” , Next time, you might aswell prepare access cavity on a tooth, obturate, give veneers on teeth, place an implant , do hemisection, gingivectomy,coronpplasty, post and core placement, treat tmj disorders, myofacial pain, do osteotomy surgeries, orthognathic surgeries, disimpaction, place invisalign, reimplantation, and all other numerous simple and silly procedures that we dentists uselessly do for our time pass . 🙂 🙂 . That way, we wont have to put in all that hard work and time to do it ourselves.

  9. parth rathod says:

    Thank you, my sister is a dentist and we had an argument on if the dentist is real doctors or not. This article is good story and i liked it
    thank you for sharing

  10. Dr. B - DMD/MD says:

    Specifically speaking about OMFS, I think many of you need to be further educated before speaking about the “MD” capabilities of OMFS, as many Oral surgeons are dual degree MD/DMD… which means they complete medical school as well in the 6 year residency program… So that means after completing a dental education, yes they complete a medical education, receive their medical license along with their MD counterparts. So yes they deliver babies, run codes, trauma, etc.. as part of their med school curriculum if not in already in their dental school curriculum (as some dental schools heavily integrate medicine into the curriculum). Therefore by definition, these OMFS’s are both doctors of “dentistry” and “medicine”. The OMFS residency curriculum consists of Anesthesia, General Surgery, Plastics, and OMFS specifics with or without the MD. Oral surgeons in hospital settings are integral part of trauma teams and know plenty of fundamentals of emergency medicine and more. In nearly all places outside of the US, OMFS is a specialty of medicine anyways, not dentistry. So this flight attendant should be damn lucky she had an OMFS on board…

  11. Lizzy P says:

    @ Dr. B (DMD/MD).
    Correct, if you are a practicing OMFS, and you went through a 6 year program where you got your MD and had to take the USMLE (US medical license exam), then you are absolutely prepared and should help in an emergent situation.
    However, there are very very few dental “MDs”. Fact, most dentists clean teeth for a living. The few who manage to make it into the competitive field of OMFS, and those who do are arguably prepared for emergency.
    Med schools teach students to think like physicians, and this is a very different mindset that is taught in dental school. For example, med students take courses on creating differentials “how to rank the most likely disease”, “how to consider the worst case scenario disease”. I am in dental school and we do not take these courses that my older sisters in med school takes. She shows me her medically comprehensive books like (symptom to diagnosis) that she had to read first year, and this is not like my “diagnosis and treatment” course/books which focuses only on dental pertinent diseases. We have this conversation all the time. While our sciences are similar, the training is different. I am proud to be a dentist. I want to clean teeth and there is nothing wrong with that. I hate when other dental students feel insecure about their degree and just wish they we’re in med school instead. Fact, I am not prepared to help someone who is having a heart attack, so quit putting that burden on me that as a dentist I should be prepared and ready to treat someone having a heart attack or something! I am proud of my profession, and I don’t need everyone on a plane fearing/respecting me like some big shot doctor who saves lives.

  12. Medical Doctor and Doctor of Dental Surgery. says:

    “The death rate for oral cancer is higher than that of cancers which we hear about routinely such as cervical cancer, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, laryngeal cancer, cancer of the testes, and endocrine system cancers such as thyroid,” according to the Oral Cancer Foundation.

    Oral cancers are caught almost exclusively by Doctors of Dental Surgery and Dental Medicine…

    Go ahead reason however you would like, but in an educated world, there is no discussion here.

    yours truly-
    Medical Doctor and Doctor of Dental Surgery.

  13. Resident says:

    This article is obviously biased coming from a dentist. I’m a Canadian trained resident having finished medical school last year and can tell you the difference even between a med student and first year resident is gigantic. To compare taking some preclinical courses with med students in the first two years (the exams for med and dent students are actually different and also dent students didnt sit through every lecture we did) as being equally competent in managing an emergency is actually straight up dangerous and foolish. Even after doing a whole year of internal medicine, emegency, ICU and CCU as a residet, I would feel challenges in managing emergencies independently especially if I didnt have access to all the bloodwork and cardiac monitors available in the hospital. If there is a true medical emergency, I’d definitely seek a medical professional not a dental. This is simply wrong and superficial to think a dentist has the similar competency to treat a medical emergency as an MD who spent all 4 years of med school and residency to qualify for medical license and training.

  14. Brian says:

    Yeah sorry but you are a doctor in the same sense as a PhD is a doctor, but when people refer to doctors in emergency medical situations they are not referring to a dentist. Even if you take the same two years of basic sciences (which id argue isn’t even the case at 90% of dental schools) you guys do not have the last two years of medical school specific training and more importantly four years of residency. I would not want a dentist evaluating me if I had a stroke on a plane because he does not understand the pathophysiology and cannot properly make the call to land a plane – without that medical training something as serious as a stroke could just look like something innocuous. Yes teeth are important, yes dentistry is a respectable career, and yes dentists do some invasive procedures, but the diagnoses dentists have to do are far less complicated and far less numerous than those of physicians and their training reflects that. If you wanted to be treated like a physician then you should have gone to medical school.

  15. Zachary says:

    I don’t understand the fuss about this.

    In this situation, he was ‘only’ a dentist. Although OMFS are very specialized dentists and many of them actually go to medical school after dental school, their training is mostly neck and above.

    But in general, a dentist is not what the flight attendant wanted. They wanted a medical doctor. I have close friends who are dentists and they can not listen to my heart or my lungs. They can not tell me what primary sclerosing cholangitis is, they can not tell me what membranoproliferative glomerulonephritis is. On the flip side, I can not tell if someone has a cavity or needs a root canal.

    This patient on the plane was most likely not having a problem with his oral cavity. He needed a medical evaluation, by someone who is more trained and qualified to assess medical conditions. That would be a medical doctor. A dentist does not evaluate for neurological disorders, cardiovascular disease, respiratory conditions, etc. They might have learned about the idea of them in dental school, but they did not spend years in residency seeing, diagnosing, managing, and treating patients with these conditions. They just simply did not.

    Yes, a dentist is a doctor, a Ph.D. is a doctor, a nurse with a DNP is a doctor. However, these people knew exactly what the flight attendant was asking for, which was a medical doctor. And these people should introduce them as exactly what they are: A dentist, a Ph.D., and a nurse.

    • Physician says:

      Big shout out to all my dental colleges who practice evidence based medicine. Dental students learn pharm drugs, physio, some path. I am glad to see more healthcare providers become formally educated so we don’t have quacks running around everywhere… Dentists do save lives.
      Unfortunatly, I am sure you will find a couple dentists or chiropractors out there who go as far as to purchase a stethoscope on google and then youtube “how to use a stethoscope” so they can pretend to play doctor on their patients. They would then rationalize why they “need to listen to their patient’s heart”…. ect… these guys are quacks. Beware.

      I digress.

      MDs/DOs learn the heart of medicine during a 3-6 year grueling 75hr/week residency, where most specialties develop the physician’s skills that equip him/her to save a life. Dentists just don’t get that kind of hands on experience. On an airplane, OMFS should actually defer to nurses and firemen/paramedics who are arguably more prepared for an emergency. If there is nobody else, be transparent about your credentials and try to help.

      Dental students: Just because you took advanced calculus in college, doesn’t mean you are more qualified than say – NASA – to send someone to the moon….. leave it to the experts.

  16. Doctor of Dental Medicine - Savior of Healthcare - Surgeon in Black Armor says:

    Hypothetical scenario.
    Two groups.
    group 1) All members took calculus and physics, then went to Dental school.
    group 2) All members took calculus and physics, and work at NASA.

    Which of these two groups would you trust to build a rocketship to send you to the moon?

    Dentists, are not experts in the medical field, even though their work is incredibly important. This propaganda that dentists are prepared to save lives just as uqually as their MD/DO counterparts, is dangerous.

  17. Tony says:

    We are all on the same team. I’m a radiologist. I feel comfortable performing ACLS. I don’t typically even touch patients as I do few procedures. I don’t listen to lungs every day. I rarely have to order labs. Sure, I can manage anaphylaxis if I needed to. There are many specialties of medicine. Dentistry is one of them. They may not save lives on a daily basis, but neither do most physicians. Public health physicians? Family practice and internists? How good are they at managing surgical complications? Can they suture aesthetically or cauterize a bleeding vessel. Probably not. I’m sure that a dentist or OMFS would be much more prepared for that. How many physicians or dentists know what they are doing when it comes to ordering imaging? It’s laughable what is ordered sometimes. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t doctors. I simply have more training then they do in radiology. What happens when you code in an internal medicine or pediatrician office? They call 911. I’m assuming that a dentist would too. No one deals with emergencies on a day to day basis except for those emergency medicine specialists and maybe those physicians covering the ICU, of which many dental specialists rotate through. The point is that whatever the specialty, the provider practices within their scope of practice/training and knows how to manage the complications that may occur. I’m sure that dentists understand the complications of what they do and how to manage them as well as a dermatologist or any other surgical subspecialty does. Ask yourself if you want an emergency medicine specialist doing neurosurgery on you. How about LASIK? Do you want a psychiatrist inserting a chest tube? It’s ridiculous to think that all specialists are experts in emergency medicine. We all have the minimal training. Let’s move on.

  18. Ankur says:

    I’m a dentist myself and I know what we study and master in 5 years and I know that I don’t deserve to be called a doctor because what we read is a joke played on us.
    Seriously.
    The knowledge a dentist have is just normal.
    And thank god that guy was not having any other medical conditions because I’m sure that if he had any medical emergency he would have died that day

  19. Anant says:

    I am a dentist and i can say we dont give a shit if some mean fellow doesnt call us a doctor.I am not a mentor,i work on ppl and i work on all most every of them after proper diagnosis,hey diagnosis the same thing done prior to treatment,which needs investigations like blood reports,glycemic status,radiological diagnosis cbct,mri etc.. Someone was saying about endocarditis and diabetes,naive fellow let me tell u periodontal health is directly related to diabetes,oral carcinomas who do you think treats those,he is called Oral and maxillofacial surgeon who has a degree in dentistry.We dont stop at the diagnosis we treat.That is why we are called surgeons,earn it before you speak shit.
    Oral and maxillofacial surgeons work with neurosurgeons who regenerate the nerve and omfs build the framework around it.face fracture,cleft lips,cancers are done by omfs.prosthetics finger,eyeball,face built by a prosthodontist,periodontist looks after not the gums but the periodontium,orthodontist hahaha go ask the famous actors.oral pathologist well the name implies.uneducated morons come out of your mean mentality basically u ppl are not good students otherwise u wud have respected the other field.only becoz u lack knowledge not the peripheral one but the core where every subject meets another where every field works to build one.remember we are surgeons go earn it and then bla bla…

  20. rachel t says:

    Why are sooo many dentists and dental students insecure about their profession?
    “Doctor’s” wear a white coat, reads EKGs, do surgery, save lives… ect….
    “Dentists” clean teeth, read mouth Xrats, and can specialize and be a part of the health care team for OMFS.

    If you want to be called “doctor” in the sense that you went to medical school and are trained to save a life in an emergent situation – then go to fucking medical school and not dental school.
    If you want to live a more relaxed lifestyle – and work 45 hours a week instead of 90 hours a week – then go to dental school and be happy with the extra time and $$$. Dentists already bank $, and have better time off than doctors.

    No, I would not trust a dentist on an airplane if I had a heart attack. I say “doctor please”, I mean someone who specifically went to medical school, medical residency, and deals with people in emergent situations…. I don’t want some insecure and arrogant dentist who wants to be “Respected” and called “doctor” …

    • RudraBhairavi says:

      Insecure dentist?? Haahahaha! Im a dentist. Never felt insecure though. You knw why? Coz my dental school has thought me everything I nedd to knw to treat a patient. And you know something else?? When I graduated, they gave me a degree!!! Its called “Bachelor of Dental Surgery” . Now thats surprising to you huh?! I knew it! They also added a prefix to my name – “Dr” . Honestly, this isnt working well with you logic huh. I pity you and your clan.
      Oh and who is a surgeon…? A gardener? A cab driver? A shop keeper? An actor? Coz they call me a surgeon too .

  21. Lity Gigson says:

    This is actually wrong and regrettable based on the analyses here.One of the commentators had earlier said probably the training in dental schools differ from Nigerian Dental schools.

    Medical and Dental training is the same in Nigeria.Dental and Medical Doctors are trained under the same umbrella,by the same lecturers till final year except one or two areas that both won’t have experience in. They belong to the same association/body and council.They earn same salaries and entitlement.CMDs,HOD,VCs are shared between MDs and DDs(Medical and Dental Doctors)

    When issues of emergency come in,all your analyses are wrong and myopic.It is expected that a common man on the street should be able to resuscitate a dying victim.Basic Life skills are mandated to all health workers not limited to doctors. Why is it that a common man passing out in the plane can’t be revived by a dental doctor? Infact it has become a liable offence that someone needs emergency care and you fail to give at the time irrespective of your status

    In medicine whether General Medicine or Dental medicine,if a labour case surfaces,you must be able to do something as a dentist so to Dental Emergency, a medical doctor should be able to do something.

    Let’s be careful and be civil with our ideas and disposition towards others field.

    God bless

  22. Anon Future Dentist says:

    As a current dental student, I’m rather bothered by some of the comments and assumptions made by both sides of the debate here.

    1) To the author: yes, absolutely, I would trust an OMFS (for reasons already delineated above) in an emergent situation. An OMFS will have more knowledge than a flight attendant or passenger without any healthcare training at all. An OMFS qualifies as DDS/DMD and MD – thus, doctor in any sense. Considering the amount of emergent training that is required for them in a practical setting during the course of anesthetizing a patient, reviving a patient, and monitoring vital signs in an oral operation, I do believe that is sufficient training in an emergent situation on a plane if no one else is around. Anyone who disagrees with that should probably be very worried the next time they need to go to an OMFS for a complicated extraction or jaw reconstruction.

    2) To the cocky current medical students attempting to degrade their dental counterparts: shame on you. To the person/student who said a dentist would not know what primary sclerosing cholangitis or membranoproliferative glomerulonephritis are – I do, my classmates who study do, and I guarantee you we are not the only training dental professionals in the universe who do (in fact – various nephritic and nephrotic pathologies are what I’m currently taking a break from studying). Do I know how to diagnose? In theory. Will I ever? Can I ever diagnose? Nope, probably not. I’m 100% ok with that.
    I also know a hell of a lot about congestive heart failure, pulmonary disorders, cranial nerves (including a full cranial nerve test), heart sounds, neural pathways, endocrinology (the list goes on) for being someone who most likely never will encounter half of the disorders I’ve needed to thoroughly understand for exams.
    It should come as no surprise that we are also drilled with the various aspects of oral microbiota, carious lesion classification, Evidence Based Approaches to treatment of such lesions, oral cancers, endodontic treatments, etc…things that are well outside the realm of medical school training (as witnessed by several medical doctor patients who have shown up to the office where I worked wondering how they or their child could possibly develop “cavities” – the term caries is not often used by such MDs – even though they have deprived their child of fluoride. Not a complicated concept, but I rest my case).

    3) I chose to go into dentistry (which, arguably, might be more competitive of a field to enter into nowadays due to the salary potential, ideal work hours, and slightly shorter amount of time spent in school) because I wanted to pursue a scientifically challenging career that also requires, I repeat *requires*, artistry. I am proud to be in a field that will allow me to provide people with beautiful smiles – smiles only I or another dentist could create.
    Medical doctors know how to remove a tooth in an emergency clinic. They know which antibiotics to prescribe to tide the patient over until they can see a dentist for a root canal. Will the medical doctor be able to treatment plan an optimal prosthetic device after removal of that tooth? Or design and create a ceramic crown after completing a root canal? Nope.
    To me, the equivalent would be a dentist evaluating a nearly-fainted patient as having orthostatic hypotension (or any number of lesser involved health conditions) and having the patient sit down and drink water before sending said patient to their primary care physician for further evaluation or treatment. Will a dentist be the one to monitor if hypotension continues? No. Is a dentist unfamiliar with orthostatic hypotension/its origins? No.

    My point is, medical doctors further specialize in the nuances of the sciences of the body that perhaps are only introduced in a dental program, and that is their art; however, medical doctors do not have the knowledge or manual dexterity/practice to replace the nuances of artistry a dentist has in treatment planning and restoring teeth – anyone who believes a dentist merely “cleans teeth” for a living is deluded (and obviously doesn’t know anything about financial production in running an office).

    4) My final and shortest point: both fields need each other. One is not “better” or more “real” than another. I am saddened by and frustrated with the *few* of my colleagues in dental school who refer to medical doctors as “real doctors” when they clearly do not understand the empiric role of dentistry in health (physical and mental). Dentists are not attempting to be medical doctors, and I for one am grateful to not have the responsibility or hours of medical doctors, but I honestly don’t believe I or any other dentist would be *useless* in an emergency situation given the dentist has actually learned and retained the vast amount of medical material he/she was given. I am learning the specialized doctorate level of material necessary to be the most qualified at my craft that I can be – just as a medical doctor, hopefully, does the same. I also deserve to have the title of ‘doctor’ just as anyone does who specializes to that degree in their field.

    ….but if someone calls out “Is there a doctor on board?” I will definitely be waiting to see if anyone else responds first.

  23. Rachel Diver, NP says:

    @ Anon Future Dentist
    Do dental students complete ACLS or BCLS training like medical students do?

    I am just curious because that is arguabley the only valid skill one learns in “school” to be prepared for emergencies. If dental schools require their students to become ACLS/BCLS certified, I think its fair to say that 2nd-4th year dental students are similarly prepared as their 2nd-4th year medical student colleagues. I know 3rd year medical students who practice CPR in hospitals while rotationing on the floor when a patient crashes. Do 3rd year dental students do this?

    (I assume that most dental students aren’t expected or trained to practice CPR when a patient crashes. But I could be wrong.)

    That brings me to the more important issue here. Its not about your degree, its about your specialty that makes you qualified.
    When on a plane, if someone is having an MI, and there is a GI doc, a Neurologist, and a Cardiologist, it is likely that the other doctors will defer to the cardiologist and go back to their seats.

    Qualifications for Emergencies have hierarchy:
    Emergency Medicine physicians > Cardiologists > Internal medicine physicians > EM PAs/NPs > nurses > firefighters > then various surgical specialties > FM docs > (OMFS?) > then pyschiatrists > then pathologists > then cosmetic dentists.

    Dental surgeons and Cosmetic Dentists do perhaps dererve to be on the “list”. But probably somewhere near the end of the list. (I would rather have an OMFS than a seasoned pathologist helping me during an MI on the plane.)

    I now hear “naturopath doctors” want to be considered doctors, and want to participate in non-invasive techniques during emergencies. One naturopath says that all you need to do is “lift the legs and put ice on the forehead”. If everyone wants to be called “doctor” who should the public listen to during emergencies?

    Do dentists deserve to be called “doctor”? Yes.
    Should OMFSs be considered as “more prepared” than society currently perceives? Yes.
    Should dentists be transparent about their qualifications? Yes.
    (This guy says “im a surgeon” to get more street cred and authority and takes advantage of the public’s perception on surgeons… this is dangerous, and reckless – a very surgeon type of thing to do – when surgeons are not necessarily as qualified as many other specialties).

    Btw, when a patient crashes in the OR, it is nurses and techs doing CPR while the surgeons (or OMFSs) watch.

  24. Anon Future Dentist says:

    @Rachel Diver, NP,

    I appreciate your thought-out comments.

    First off, yes, at least at my dental school we were given BCLS training within the first semester. I cannot speak to this for sure, but given the fact that GPR (general dentistry) residencies after completing dental school are done in hospitals, I’m sure there is some further emergent training; however, I do not know this for certain. No, I’m obviously not running around the clinic floors in emergencies because, chances are, there aren’t many emergencies if a patient is coming in for restorative work. But, if push comes to shove, I would know what to do. And certainly the attending dentists and on-call nurses who are nearby in case of such an emergency would, too.
    I’m not pretending dentists are more qualified than a medical doctor for an emergency – you have completely missed the point of my comments. My main objective was to show that yes, we do have some medical knowledge despite the degrading remarks (or unsupported remarks) made above by others, but we are not likely to utilize that information and are not qualified/permitted to make diagnoses outside our specific niche. I can’t think of a single dentist who would pretend to do such. The OMFS author and other reviewers writing comments are not looking for “street cred” – if you have MD after your name, you are licensed in that regard whether it’s accompanied by DDS or not.

    Additionally by adding in the word “cosmetic”, you have suggested that, despite the lengthy description I provided, dentists are only good for cosmetic purposes. My point in highlighting our ability to create beautiful smiles was just to illustrate why I was drawn to that over medicine (though I did consider and could have gone into medicine), not to suggest that is all we can do. HEALTH is of the utmost importance to any dentist worth his/her salt. Everything we do in the oral cavity is related in some way to another part of the body (no, probably not feet), and we cannot afford to forget that when completing treatment.

    Additionally, if a patient comes into a privately owned dental office (i.e. not within a hospital where physicians or nurses are nearby), a dentist – “cosmetic” or not – is expected to address any emergent situations that might arise. That is part of the reason we are given the vast amount of info – so we aren’t clueless should someone start to pass out, freeze up, slur speech, go numb, etc. (Heck, even in one of my physiology classes, we were presented with a hypothetical scenario on what to do if a GSW victim walks into our office…..not likely). Our obligation is to do what we can to aid the patient before the paramedics or further qualified physicians/nurses can take over. If you do not trust a dentist (who is drilling into areas marginally close to nerves with cell bodies close to or in your brain, injecting around a highly dense venous plexus to anesthetize, or injecting substances which on the off chance could produce an allergic reaction) to be able to handle a situation like that more so than a firefighter or psychiatrist, then I’m a little concerned why you or anyone else would go to a dentist in the first place.

    In conclusion (and I apologize for the veracity of my tone, but I feel this is important for clarification), no one in the dental field is pretending to be more prepared for an emergency than a nurse (or nurse practitioner, as I believe you are) or physician – I would just appreciate some respect shown to a field that is often overlooked as being filled with a bunch of people who only “clean teeth for a living.”

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