Oral Health Group

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.”


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.”


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.


RELATED ARTICLE: Evolving Excellence: Scientific Advances In Dentistry And New Restorative Paths

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126 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.

          • Arielle says:

            As i read some of the comments, I really dont get what are Some people arguing about. Firstly, Dentists are trained for something else, something completely different and specialised. For someone to say I’d rather take a emergency nurse than a Dentist In an emergency setting, i mean duh it’s their job. I do see people looking down on Dentist which is crazy because what are you comparing? Dentist are trained to tackle oral problems, the reason they need to know quite a bit of medical stuff is because in healthcare, nothing can be Treated in isolation. Because our body is completely interlinked and connected, To give the patient the best possible care, a Dentist needs medical knowledge. Any small mishap can cause a chain of devastating medical effects, Dentist needs to understand how it works so when they do their job, the patient is safe. Dentist are Doctors because they treat patient, giving diagnoses and treatment plans based on their professional knowledge and experience. Like the main text said, if you meet someone who cant understand this simple logic, there is simply no point because you might as well be talking to a wall.

          • OMFP says:

            Lol. Who is this Severn Traughston person acting as the authority on every school in the country?

            The training is not identical throughout the four years, but there a number of schools where most/all of the first half is done, yes, in the exact same classrooms, at the same time, with the same tests, which includes physical examinations, stethoscopy, ophthalmoscopy, etc.

            Does that mean that a dentist from one of these schools should shove ahead of an MD or emergency nurse in one of these situations? Obviously not – we have a different job. But many of us are certainly more than capable of using a cricothyrotomy to save a choking patient when the offending item can’t be dislodged.

            Please pipe down with the telling other people what they did to earn their degree.

            Go look up Harvard or UConn’s curriculum. Those two are completely and entirely co-taught with both Med and Dental for the entire pre-clinical portion. Pretty sure Columbia and Stony Brook are that way, too.

            That’s not to mention the many schools that use the same professors for both schools teaching from the same syllabus at different times, which you seem to be aware of and conflate with schools like the above.

        • Mu The Egyptian says:

          i think it doesn’t make sense in this world after this long way of critical thinking and rationality to separate the “specialty of dentistry” away from medicine
          i think opthalmologist too doesnt have to know more about leg nerves and vessels
          also the obs/gyn will forget what he/she had learnt about eye, nose and hand
          almost all specialists will get rid of what they had know about 90% of the medical study

          otorhinolaryngologist as an example will not be able to give the prober care of MI patient only because he/she had study the basic medical sciences when they were at the college

          at the other hand ,the dentist doesn’t deal with the human orodental area as a separate part of the human body, this is insane
          dentist ,as any other specialist, have to deal eith the part of his specialty as a part of the human body
          so the dentist as the ENT specialist as well as the opthalmologist will deal with the same body tissues and organs beside the tissues of their specialty like nerves vessels bone soft tissues

          if the dentist will go to the jail if he provide an emergency help to a patient this is a stupidness from the law makers as dentist ,as a human doctor, may face this emergency situations at his office so will he let his patient suffering without any emergency support?
          this doesn’t make any sense

          i think the right way is to rejoin the dentistry to the medicine as a branch or specialty not to separate them as a two different fields

      • 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?

          • BOB says:

            Of Course. More Practical Experience where life and death Decisions have to be made

          • Rickky rick says:

            I’d take a paramedic over any dentist of any experience without a sliver of a thought in an emergency situation period period period. I’d take a paramedic over most specialized physicians in an emergent situation as well. Its not about knowledge here , its about triage and the many hours needed to do both mental and physical triage RAPIDLY and ACCURATELY.

            with the sole exception: that I’d take a OMFS equally if not a little preferably over a paramedic for an emergency situation obviously related to the throat or proximal airway.

            #1 Learning once doesnt mean learning and retaining or having to relearn that same irrelevant lecture of foot shit that 4/3000 dental schools in the country made you learn. You didn’t take Step 1 which required you to MAINTAIN the knowledge learned for the 2 years. You crammed the foot arteries for 1 test and peaced the fuck out indefinitely.

            #2. Saying you took the same first 2 years of medical school makes a doctor smack his head. Even with early clinical teaching, after my first 2 years MAINTAINING the first 2 years of knowledge, I could run circles around a nurse in naming diseases and their pathology, and what the cells would look like under a slide. I would feel FRAUDULENT, delusional, and dangerous to think I should lead an emergent event in society over ANY hospital health professional from a nurse, to a paramedic, to a clinical pharmacist, to a radiology tech, to a scrub nurse, to literally anyone already practicing in a clinical realm that participates in emergent care. I would ascert myself to “lead” in front of my 9 year old sister, a college student, a nursing student, most certainly a dental student, and any other nonhealth professional with a COMPLETE AND UTTER understanding that I would realistically make 0 difference to any of the aforementioned folk. I could go oh shit blue face cyanosis and list all the diseases I know associated, but that was as helpful as my 8 year old sister going “oh shit blue face thats not good”

            Any physician would state after completing the first 2 years of medicine, that you have completed more than 6% of the relevant knowledge needed to be clinically useful at all.

            As a graduate M.D. I trust myself to not make shit worse and the ability to initiate treatment for common non-lifethreatening problems like bronchitis. I honored all preclinical courses, killed my board exams, and am very confident in my expected competence to current level of training.

            No M.D. graduate that isn’t dangerous to patients would operate
            with any more confidence than that- because we’ve begun to learn how much … we don’t know.

            You actually have to learn a LOT of material to finally realize you don’t know shit practically.

            You learn to be and are confident of general medical after internship. You may be confident to practice after residency. You are confident in your practice after practicing after residency.

            Saying you took the first 2 medical years and thus you’re
            “a doctor” is akin to a Biology major saying they have learned enough dentistry to be called a dentist. That. is. not. a. exxageration.

            A doctor is a doctor
            a dentist is a dentist
            I respect both my doctors and dentists equally.
            I call my doctors and dentists Dr. when addressing them.

            Dont you ever dare say youre “a doctor”, this isn’t out of arrogance or prestige, its out of patient safety #1 and a very distant #2 respect to the actual assumed competance needed when a lay person says youre “a doctor”.

            And again to rebut the equal early training argument. Go have a hypothetical global medical knowledge pissing contest at the beginning of the 3rd year with any medical student who has passed step 1. You’ll be humbled really really really quickly, I’d say by 20 seconds any audience would notice a gap. And thats with the best of you.

            Dont be pretentious Dr. , and thank you for being my dentist and caring about me. But youre not a janitor and youre not a physician and youre not an architect and you are a dentist and you are a doctor of dental medicine

      • Samar Misra says:

        I agree with you and love how I have heard the curriculum of dental school is pretty much like med school..

        My question is that say there is an MD or DO that just finished 4 years of medical school, does he or she just pursue a residency focused on dentistry if he or she wants to pursue dentistry as a physician?

        Nice parallel topic as I am a MA in Urban Planning student and I feel the two quite similar yet different fields of Architecture and Urban Planning can be like a parallel sort of for Medicine and Dentistry.

      • Palak Misra says:

        True enough. I’m also from a Dental College of India. We worked harder than any medical students . We are doing specialization from the beginning. People should understand this.

      • Justin Bigelow says:

        As I have nothing but respect for the time and effort all medical professionals go through as I strongly believe education is the one and only way to progress. To my question I understand that DDS is technically capable of oral surgery or other specialized treatments and that’s fine. Is it okay to do root canal or oral surgery without making it clear to the patient they don’t carry the title or the extra 2 or more years of education. I had terrible experience. I was told I was seeing an oral surgeon for specialized work only to find out later that the individual was a dentist “who is good at it” not my words. Then the same situation with an endo. Unfortunately the work done was extremely sub par leaving me in a very difficult situation. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

      • Complete, self importance. A dentist completely I personally would trust with my oral hiegine, not with making a medical or clinical assumption of my medical condition. Example, I have a p.h.d. as a quantity surveyor and rightly so “reference myself” as DR. in corospondance. I don’t book restaurants or expect preferencal treatment as I have ,letters after my name. Seems to be American culture , Delusions of grandure. As the proffision of “ciaropractor”(masseuse) can call themselves Doctor, I digress.

    • Roberto Moreton says:

      In cases where emergencies occur and someone asks “Is there a doctor available?”, there is no reason for a Doctor of dentistry to state that they are “only” doctors of dentistry. No one knows exactly what has occurred in such emergencies and your statement is very ignorant. What if the said person required a brain surgeon? Should that prevent a doctor who only an orthopaedic surgeon from coming forward? Or, if the person has had a heart attack, should all medical professionals who are not heart surgeons or cardiologists refrain from offering assistance? The whole point is, that in such situations, no one really knows what the person is suffering from. A dental surgeon does an enormous amount of study about the human body in general, before he/she then goes onto to specialise as a dental surgeon. Therefore, they have a great deal more knowledge about medicine than a person with no medical training

    • H says:

      As a dental student, interested in pursuing OMFS….

      It is pretty obvious this man had orthostatic hypotension. He has been sitting on a plane for hours and the sudden change in getting up caused the receptors in his carotid artery to recognize the signal for a temporary shutdown due to lack of oxygen going to the brain. After a few moments of returning bloodflow and keeping the situation calm, the man will be fine.

      What many people don’t realize is medical students can basically learn all their information from ‘home’ and during 3rd 4th years their main duty is to handle the b*tchwork and get pimped (source – medical school friends). Real training starts in residency. OMFS pursue a harder residency than 75% of medical residencies (don’t tell me IM residency or any non-surg residency is harder than OMFS).

      OMFS is a specialty recognized by American College of Surgeons – look it up.

      Dental students interested in pursuing OMFS must take the NBME CBSE exam – which is the same exam (with less questions) as the Step 1 USMLE exam – which is the exam medical students must take. This encompasses all topics of medicine.

      In summary; OMFS are not only well equipped to handle the situation, but they are more well rounded because they’re affluent in dentistry and medicine 🙂 All the other salty medical students posting probably couldn’t match into a competitive residency

    • Dr Balogun Y.O says:

      A dentist has a concrete knowledge to act as perfect as medical doctor.The posting a dentist enjoys is general not only dental.Even in dental,you are also thought the relationship of medicine in dentistry.Dont be misled that dentistry has a limited scope in medicine.This is a lie.

    • DSO says:

      LOL.. You are way off base. I am not even going to explain how wrong you are but I will just say, DMD DDS both have extreme intensive medical training and could both give aid in an emergency situation. If a life or death situation is going to happen dentists are trained fully to handle it which could in addition happen at anytime in a dental setting.

    • Mike Lee says:

      There are OMFS that get dual degrees in DDS and MD from their institutions. So they are medically trained as well.

    • Bogdan Laurentiu Ianca says:

      You do realised that OMFS are both specialist in General Medicine and in Dentistry, they are REAL doctors, i think they are the most competent if you think about it. I finished my dental training a year ago and now im starting med school from the 3rd year (in my country it takes 6 years to become both) so in 4 years i will obtain my MD title, and then i can become an OMF, like i wanted. So i will not be a doctor after that? i will now everithing about the human body in general, and OMF is a very Wide specialty, i think i America it is the same

    • Dr. Rey Marc Bagcal says:

      WTfire dude! Don’t know what you are saying!

  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.

    • W says:

      “Is a dentist going to have the experience of practicing on thousands of people how to perform a complete cranial nerve exam?”


    • Jeff Gold says:

      Lol… you’re a PhD… you’re the least useful when it comes to claiming a title of doctor and actually being able to help someone in an emergency so you best look inward first.

    • Dr Balogun Y.O says:

      Do l need cranial nerve exam before l diagnose Stroke patient? No,this is lie.loss of limb movt,speech disarticulation, neurological awareness and history is enough for me to know this is stroke or not.Atleast encephalopathy will first preoccupy my mind.

      • rickie rick says:

        … cool , tell that to the captain of the plane.

        When he says, what should I do? Whats your answer.

        and PS. Youre wrong to diagnose a stroke. And saying encepholopathy is just saying “hmm seems somethings wrong probably in the brain” have a cookie.

        As mentioned elsewhere. Stroke scale? What is it? Land the plane- Why? Risk crashing by landing the plane? Why? Why not? What intervention should be given by protocol- no time to google, Dr. what is it? What variables matter here. He also has a fever. Same symptoms, you giving TPA if its on the flight? Be careful now, the wrong choice kills this patient.

        • ricky rick says:

          rerun the scenario again different body part or organ , change the gender. WHat now? Do that 1500 times to address all common scenarios. Then practice doing each until youre as comfortable in speed and recollection as doing a molar filling.

          Now youre useful here.

  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.

      • Alina Zeidler DDS says:

        Robert, Why not acknowledge that dentistry focuses mainly on the head and neck . Our medical education and training have rendered us to be accomplished specialists in one facet of medicine. Please accept this and have more respect for us dentists who risk coming into contact with highly infectious diseases daily. I took the Hippocratic Oath in Dental school and I am
        Painless Doctor Z

        • Dave Al says:

          Yes, I am wholeheartedly in agreement with all your comments, Painless Doctor Z. Thank-You so much for addressing this important topic so professionally.

  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”.

    • Azide says:

      “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”

      An oral surgeon is a “licensed physician” if they complete a 6 year MD integrated OMFS residency because they literally get their MD degrees on top of their DDS degrees. If you didn’t know that, then you must not have gone to medical school.

      Now Google “Craniomaxillofacial Surgeon”. Google Cosmetic Surgeon. These are some of the possible titles for former dental students who went on to complete 6 year OMFS and then fellowships, further specializing them in different aspects of the world of surgery. I know a cosmetic surgeon who got his DMD first but does liposuction because he is a licensed physician as well!

      Would you really want an ophthalmologist MD treating an emergency instead of an OMFS MD DDS? They both have surgical expertise.

      • Jakob says:

        Haha, such angst from dentists and dental students. Face the fact. Yes. I’d rather have an Ophthalmologist or a Dermatologist come to my aid in a sudden emergency as opposed to a dentist. Why? Because the former two individuals have been trained to that extent far before the third even set foot into that realm. I absolutely respect dentists. But are they doctors as I understand it? No. They are doctors in the same degree that a PhD student of Mathematics is a doctor. The title Dr. has far greater implications in a life or death situation that a doctor of dental science is just not equipped to deal with.

        • lurker says:

          You want an Ophthalmologist or a Dermatologist to come to your aid in a sudden emergency over a dentist? Reasonable. But over an OMFS? Give me the oral maxillofacial surgeon any day of the week. OMFS has deep roots in trauma surgery, and is much more experienced and better trained for such situations than the two medical specialties you mentioned.

        • Juliet says:

          “They are doctors in the same degree that a PhD student of Mathematics is a doctor. The title Dr. has far greater implications in a life or death situation that a doctor of dental science is just not equipped to deal with” . You should just honestly say that you’re ignorant of the fact that we save lives if not as a dental student why do we have to take general medicine for 3 years? Why do we have to do gross anatomy of the upper limb, thorax, abdomen, lower limb, head and neck, because it’s not necessary since we can’t save lives. Let’s just stop thinking honestly. We read general medicine and still have to combine it with dental medicine for 6 years and someone who doesn’t even know an iota of what we do say that we can’t handle life threatening situations think about it.

    • Dr. Rob M. says:

      SO….. ” I need a doctor” literally translates to…. I need an M.D., any other doctor need not see if they can be of assistance so stay back? Silly.
      I’m a DMD… If i hear a doctor is needed, I assess the situation and make the determination if i can be of help. I don’t turn to Robert and ask him if he thinks i can handle this emergency or not. One thing all of us doctors share in common, is knowing our limitations and comfort level. One dentist may not be comfortable doing a cranial exam, whereas another may have had a residency where they had a lot of training in that. I specialized in Pedo. in my dental training.(extra 2 years hospital residency) In my residency, I did a very long rotation in Anesthesiology….. When i now go to the operating room to do some of my cases, there have been times where I have actually helped the anesthesiologist complete a nasotracheal intubation bc they did very few children needing dental work, thereby needing this intubation type.
      I am a Peds. Dentist. A doctor of children’s dentistry. Often times I have parent’s refusing to take sedative medication I prescribe prior to their child’s appointment. They say, “I need to check with the doc first.” This is where I get annoyed. A good physician will educate that parent that I am highly qualified in writing these prescriptions, as I use them on a daily basis. BUT…….. I have had physicians instead just go along with it…..often writing a completely inappropriate prescription. At that point I usually deny treatment. One last point is when dealing with facial fillers, etc for cosmetic purposes. A dental doc is just as qualified, if not more, than an M.d. After all, we are the head and neck specialists. I used to have a sep. practice where i practiced using “Botox” and fillers for cosmetics. I have had patients learn i am a dentist and cancel saying they would never have a dentist do this. Little do they know that one of the main course trainers of of using these products….who trains all types of doctors….is a dental doctor. Not only are we experts in face, head and neck… we give the most oral/facial injections. Most docs seldom anesthetize these areas whereas we as dentists inject the face dozens of times per week.
      Many people are just not aware that Dentists are in fact, “real doctors’. I have heard this said recently by college educated people. Just today, I have no doubt met a person who will some day say those very words. A 17 year old male patient that had an appointment today….. ask me…….. Do i need to go to college to become a dentist? SMH….

      • Dr. Rob M. says:

        Gave this topic a bit more more thought ….
        I don’t think anyone would disagree that an M.D. has more medical knowledge than a D.M.D. or D.D.S. If an emergent issue arose that did not involve the oral cavity, or head and neck region, the M.D. would likely be far more qualified to help, and perhaps even a nurse depending on what capacity she/he works in. If a dental emergency arose, I certainly would have superior expertise when compared to any other type of doctor. Also, I would choose a dental hygienist, and even a dental assistant, to be involved with an emergency of the oral cavity over an MD, and esp. over a nurse or aide, simply bc they both work closely with the dentist on a daily basis. The same is true of an M.D. and his ancillaries. But, just bc dental ancillaries are grossly more familiar with the oral cavity than the M.D. and his staff, doesn’t mean they know enough to carry the doctor title. The same holds true of the nurse. Just bc the M.D. knows relatively little when it comes to dental issues, doesn’t preclude him/her of the title doctor. The title of Doctor is bestowed bc an individual has extensive expertise above all others in a given area. In both cases we impact quality of life, and can save lives. I appreciate and respect all of my health field brothers and sisters…. after all….. that is what we are. we are a team…a family…. we are a special group of individuals that chose to help others in whichever capacity that suited our needs. Whichever you chose, you deserve to hold your head up and be proud.
        None of us need to argue about what has already been established and bestowed upon us. Our forefathers and mothers b4 us have already discussed all of this and determined who shall carry the honored title. Dentist is a type of a doctor. My Degree reads Doctor of Dental Medicine. It is not up for debate. I love what i do…. So if my degree read, “Engineer of Dentistry” I still would have pursued it and been just as happy….. But it does not .. so Doctor it shall be, to me and to you.

  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

    • Lano says:

      Mendel ugboya , you dey here, dem just like to box dentists to corner out of envy and jealousy , just bec we have grasp of what they do!

  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

    • PF24 says:

      I’m an attorney and a dentist, so I have two “fake” doctorates (JD, DDS). Traditionally, James is absolutely right. The Philosophiae Doctor (PhD) degree was, and is still often considered to be the only true doctorate within the original meaning of the term dating back to the middle ages. It is a research degree originally denoting a “love of (all) wisdom.”

      What we have, and that even includes you MDs, are professional/vocational doctorates. MD, DO, DDS, DMD, OD, DPM, DPH, DNP, JD, etc. are all, at their core, “trade” doctorates. Still, all but the lawyer should be referred to as doctor – counselor is fine for the lawyer, or “asshole” if you prefer 🙂

  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.

    • AD says:


    • Frank says:

      “Dentists Clean teeth”

      The profession of Dental Hygiene must have ceased to exist then. If you’re a dentist cleaning teeth, thats pretty sad. In my region, dentists earn upward of $350-750K, if that’s all from cleaning teeth, well then that’s one hell of a career. As for the patient on the plane, if as a dentist you can’t help them, so be it. Doesn’t make you any less of a doctor. When you go to a dental clinic, do you refer to the dentist as Mr/Mrs? Probably not.

    • Stephen Chu DDS says:

      There are actually a couple enzymes, streptokinase and urokinase, that you can inject I.M. at a heart attack scene, IF you’re there soon enough, to break the clot. It’s clear to me that you wouldn’t want me to do it and bring you back, nor if I found you at a car wreck scene and you were bleeding profusely would you want me to apply a tourniquet, since I am “only a dentist.” I had the only 100% on the biochemistry final exam, and I was offered to publish in Berlin before I graduated, which I did, in Quintessence International.

  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.

    • Jakob says:

      No. Surgeons of Head and Neck Surgery do the same and so do ENT surgeons. I’ve seen craniofacial surgeons assist but they are highly specialised. Doctors, proper, not PhD not dentists, will always be far superior than their counterparts in dentistry. I respect dentists, but end of the day, they’re not true doctors.

      • Dr. Rob M. says:

        SMH…… their are not degrees of Doctor…. You either hold the degree or not. My diploma say’s doctor…. It doesn’t say almost a doctor… and there isn’t an asterisk at the bottom saying not a real doctor. It’s very clear. I had extensive training in school, externships, and in my hospital based residency program to specialize (after i already was a general dentilst), which was CHM…… A primary trauma center. There i treated EVERYTHING! I did a lengthy rotation in the E.R. among several other areas. In all departments we were addressed as, and recognized as Doctor by the attending M.D.’s as well as staff and nurses. 24/7 on call was a part of it. Doctor is such a general term, but deserved by all that have earned the title in their respective expertise.

    • Stephen Chu DDS says:

      Many thanks for your comment on oral cancer. My uncle was an Oral Pathologist and Dean of Beijing University’s dental school. He would like all that you said. He flew in to meet me soon after I graduated, and he said, “I see that you like Operative.” I had just won the coveted American Academy of Gold Foil Operators’ Award in dentistry.

  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.

    • Dr. Rob M. says:

      correct me if I’m wrong…. but this all came about bc an Oral Surgeon was snubbed when offering help to a person in need. I didn’t hear of a more qualified person coming forward whereas a choice had to be made on which person should take charge of the situation. This was not intended to be a my father can beat up your father type of situation. This was to point out the ignorance of some people not recognizing dentists as doctors, whereas our knowledge goes beyond just treating teeth.

  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.

    • Dr. Rob M. says:

      A dentist is certainly not a doctor in the same sense as a phd. WOW….
      Logic 101…seeing as how I’m in between treating my patients now I’ll need to keep this short. Let’s see how we are diff. than a phD doc. 1. we treat patients in which we must know about the human body as a whole. Drug interactions, contraindications, etc.
      2. We diagnose humans….
      3. We address the disease process and at times cure it
      4. We make treatment plans
      5. We cut human tissue on a daily basis
      6. we give injections
      7. Do biopsies
      8. etc…..
      starting to see a difference yet?
      I personally work with cleft palate patiets in which i designed and made feeding obturators for those that needed it for lack of thriving! A thesis would do none of the above.

  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.
    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.”

  25. Austin D Gray says:

    I am an OMFS(single Degree track, I did undergrad(4yrs), dental school(4 yrs-#4 in my class of 97) then residency in Houston Texas medical center(4 yrs). OMFS training in the US really is 4 track options (single degree(4 yrs);single degree with masters(5yrs);Dual degree path(6-7rs) and Triple degree path(DDS, MD, PHD(12 yrs)). Not many go the triple degree route but I know one who did and he is making big strides in head and neck cancer research and was one of 2 surgeon scientists to receive a NIH grant for 1.5 million for initial lab setup and furthering his research in head and neck malignancy management, Simon Young DDS, MD, PhD. These are all after college and dental school. To even get into this you have to be in the top 10% or less of your class. These programs in the southern US are brutal (I trained in Houston and routinely was working 120+hrs per week (we were not ACGME accredited so hour limits did not apply to us). I even worked 144hrs in one week. My entire residency experience was all hospital based and very heavy trauma. Once someone achieves board certification (written and then later oral boards) legally they can all do the same things (admit patients to the hospital ect) no matter what track they took. I think it really comes down to what you actually are practicing in. Some pursue money only (teeth and implants), some do very hospital-based practices and others trauma call-based practices. To the flight scenario, as with any situation you want the guy who manages emergencies the most to be the guy involved. Ideally that would be a board-certified emergency room physician. However, he may not be on the flight and it comes down to who is the best of what you have. The best general surgeon in the world can’t do any more to save your life than an EMT with PALs, ACLS, BLS, ATLS training on a plane without a hospital support(shock room and staff) setting that helps him succeed. Unfortunately, almost all of these demanding fields attract type A people who are eager to jump in to “save the day” when perhaps the best person for the job might be the working EMT who does this on a regular basis as opposed to the surgeon, pathologist or whomever. Really what I think we all hope will happen is that maybe all of these people respond and help each other evaluate and help the patient with care to not let our egos get in the way. Sexy titles and big attitudes from whomever is there really don’t matter, it’s all about the best outcome for the patient. As an OMFS (single degree -4yr) myself if I can help out with my PALS, BLS, ACLS, or ATLS then I will gladly do so. If someone else is competently providing this to the patient then have at it. I think the biggest issue is that most people don’t even understand what I am. People ask me what I do and I tell them I am an Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon and most have no idea what that is. They see my DDS title and assume I “clean teeth as one person before stated”. So, the general response is I am an Oral surgeon then helps them. Hard to explain to people quickly that I do not have a MD degree but I am trained and boarded identically to the MD, DDS the MD, DDS, PhD or the DDS MS people quickly. There are only 200 or so a year that are graduated in the US of all the categories of “OMFS” so logically most have no idea what our capabilities are and that’s fine and really expected on my end. Even more so for me because my credentials are only DDS (4 year training) and board certification. In Texas when I trained there were only 26 residency slots for all degree paths and 2 were for single degree paths and I matched the 4 year slot over the 6 yr spots. So be careful what assumptions you make about “just a DDS” you may be referring to someone who takes primary facial trauma call in a level I trauma center for 15 days a month and may be more qualified than you think, and of course the opposite could be true and this guy might just make dentures and barely graduated from dental school. I of course have seen the same with medical doctors (MDs and Dos) and once had a senior anesthesia (year 4 of 4) resident attempting to intentionally give pressors to a patient via their arterial line(was not an accident and the intent was to try to help the patient and not harm them). Moreover, most people get out of residency and just do what makes a living and they enjoy doing. For the 3 head and neck specialties OMFS, Plastics and ENT this is doing T&T. For OMFS its teeth and titanium dental implants. For Plastics it is tummies and Titties (breast augmentations) and for ENT it is Tonsils and tubes(tympanic tubes). I think it really comes down to who happens to be the guy who is the best fit for the job and if all the “doctors and nurses” come to the front that generally is sorted out by who actually begins to make a meaningful intervention first. Most who have any healthcare training and are stumped by the problem at hand will gladly defer to someone who presents with a desire to step in really seems to know what they are doing. At the end of the day a good outcome is what is needed. I would hope all nurses, EMTs, firefighters, dentists, DOs, MDs and anything in between could shelve their attitudes then and just help out. Most of these dental students and medical students’ comments just wreak of a desire to prove yourself. Someday you will do that and become comfortable in what you do and you will then just help and not worry about bickering with other allied healthcare professionals and just focus on the job at hand. By the way one of the most accomplished surgeons leading face transplants in the US currently was a dentist first then an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon and then went on to do a residency in Plastic surgery Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez. Really, it’s not the flight attendants’ fault that she doesn’t understand what an OMFS is but really the right person for the job is the guy who is ACLS, PALS, BLS, and ATLS certified and who USES it the most. That’s who I would want in an airplane setting to help direct care to keep me stable until I could be evaluated in a hospital setting by a board-certified ER physician and then what ever subspecialty is needed who again is devoting their time and effort to be the best they can be in that discipline. We all have our niche and we would be wise to focus on that and master it before attempting to do it all.

  26. Roushon Jackson DDS says:

    Dentists are incredibly important to patient health!
    It annoys me when dental students feel insecure and want to call themselves “doctor”, or somehow see themselves as “equal” to the medical training of physicians.
    Dental Medicine is a wonderful field. Period. It does not have the brutal and degrading culture of medicine in a hospital. You can make $150,000+. Have a life, enjoy your family time.
    No, I am not prepared to save lives. No, I do not need respect from my friends and family by calling myself “doctor”. Yes, I enjoy cleaning teeth. Yes, there are a small percentage of dentists who take their training further and operate surgically.

    If a Dentists is the same as a Physician. Then a Dentists is the same as a Podiatrist. If a Podiatrist is the same as a Pharmacist. Then the Dentist is the same as a Pharmacist… Please MAKE IT STOP! we are not Physicians. We are proud, happy, D-E-N-T-I-S-T-S.

  27. kayla mcfee says:

    all physicians (including radiologists, dermatologists, ophthalmologists ect) spend intern year in the hospital on the rapid response teams – where they lead “code blues”, sepsis crashes, syncope, AMS… – and are TRAINED in how to manage a crises.
    Dentists don’t have this training.

    • Stephen Chu DDS says:

      I went to one doctor who disagreed with me for 2 years that I had hyperuricemia. Finally the Radiologist said your dentist patient is right, check his serum uric acid like he wants! This doctor and another one were completely unaware that northern Asians cannot take Allopurinol. In one study in Asia, 100% of the gout patients died in hospital burn units, of epidermal necrosis. I was fortunate that Febuxostat came out in ,2010, and when I lectured them about the fatalities in Asians on Allopurinol, they asked how I, a dentist, knew it? I said, I take Cont. Ed….in dentistry. They had no idea not to give Allopurinol to a northern Asian!

  28. Dr. Danisch says:

    Some OMFS programs complete “medical school” and their residents take USMLE step 1 and 2. However, they do not take Step 3. In order to apply for a “MEDICAL LICENCE” you must complete step 3 and have completed an approved intern year at an ACGME accredited residency. Therefor, OMFS are unable to obtain a license to practice medicine. Example, OMFS can not work in an urgent care and treat leg fractures and infections because they do not have a medical licence. They have an MD, and this is not the same thing as a license. The real training for practicing medicine occurs in residency, not medical school. That being said, OMFS and all dentists are incredibly valuable to the healthcare team, and should be respected.

  29. Very puzzled by the misinformation says:

    @Dr. Danisch

    Every OMFS resident at 6 year programs completes Step 3 and an intern year in general surgery.

    Why speak so confidently about something you know so little about.

  30. pratik jain says:

    form the above comment they can say that dentist are not doctors but I think dentist are doctors because dentist gives the
    information about the mouth health, oral health, dental health
    if you are consider thses are doctor but this is part of doctors.
    My dentist dr. Amit Thareja gives the right suggestion for how to take care of oral health.

  31. pratik jain says:

    form the above comment they can say that dentist not called as doctors but I think dentist are also called as doctors because dentist gives the right information about the mouth health, oral health, dental health if you are consider thses are doctor but this is part of doctors.My dentist dr. Amit Thareja gives the right suggestion for how to take care of oral health.

  32. Mendel says:

    What most of the commentators here have failed to recognize or appreciate is, “who is a doctor?”.

    According to Oxford Advanced Learner’s dictionary, A doctor (in the traditional sense) is a person who has been trained in medical science who’s job is to treat people who are ill or injured.

    There are several other definitions depending on qualifications etc.

    Now the question is, is a dentist trained in medical science? does a dentist treat ill people or those injured? Your guess is as good as mine.

    By the way, let me clarify that dentists (dental surgeons) are different from other dental auxiliaries (dental therapy, dental technology, dental nurse etc) who assist the dentists.

    Dental surgery is not just about cleaning of teeth (that is even not supposed to be done by dentists but dental hygienists).

    There are different specialties within dentistry; Oral medicine, oral pathology, oral and maxillofacial surgery, periodontists, orthodontists etc. All these are undergone as residency programs after dental school and internship (housemanship).

    Dentists treat a lot of oral lesions (leukoplakia, erythroplakia, acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis, etc etc). There are more than a hundred oral diseases treated by dentists (specifically Oral medicine and oral pathologists) medically..

    Now coming to injuries, dentists perform life saving maxillofacial surgeries in theaters, many take several hours, to save patients (be it midface fractures, mandibular fractures, or tumors, cleft lip/palate, etc). Procedures many physicians cannot perform. Do we now say physicians are not doctors because they can’t save a patient with an irreversible pulpitis, having constant or spontaneous throbbing pain and requiring an RCT (which only a dentist can perform). Now from our definition of who a doctor is, seem to me that dentists satisfy that criteria.. Oral medicine and pathology, or surgery, etc, are all “medical science”. Not mentioning their training too in general medicine. I think dentists are the real doctors here, considering the fact that they are trained in general medicine (no matter how deficient the training is), and dental surgery… Whereas, physicians have no knowledge whatsoever in dentistry.

    The major problem here is lack of awareness. People don’t know what dentists are capable of, and this is because most dentists do not educate the public about its curriculum and duties.

    I also think dental curriculum should be harmonized and borrow a leaf from its training as obtainable in Nigeria. Dental training is more like studying medicine and specializing in dental surgery at the same time. More rigorous and tasking.

    Hence, there is no need for any dentist to feel insecure about who he is. It is a thing of pride to train in both medicine and dental surgery at the same time.

    We all need to understand that different doctors have their niche, you can’t be

    • Mendel says:


      You can’t be jack of all trades, master of none.

      • Richard Barry - Dental Student says:

        1) 6 year OMFS residency programs cram 2-3 years of “medical school” into the curriculum, but also have 4-6 months of separate dental specific training. The quantity of classes rotations are not the same as 4 years of dedicated medical school. (e.g. Medical school tracks looks like 4 weeks EM, 8 weeks of IM, 8 weeks OB/gyn, 8 weeks surgery, 8 weeks FM… whereas OMFS medical tracks are like 4 weeks IM, 4 weeks surgery, 8 weeks dental medicine, 8 weeks OMFS)… additionally, 6 year OMFS programs are “residency” programs that allow residents to complete many of the same rotations that Medical Students take. So the background is different, the OMFS student went to dental school, didn’t have to take the MCAT, did complete abbreviated rotations as a OMFS resident and they call it “medical school”. it’s not the same as true medical school. I know this because my sister is an ER doctor.

        2) OMFS cannot apply for a medical license. OMFS do complete intern year of surgery, and they can take USMLE. They are awarded a dual MD/DDS degree. However, they cannot apply for a medical license to practice “medicine” in the US. specifically, this limits an OMFS from practicing as a family physician or a emergency room physician, or in the urgent care. YOU WONT SEE DENTISTS IN THE URGENT CARE.

        3) Dentists are absolutely doctors. They are absolutely trusted by physicians to treat surgically and with medicine any oral pathology.

        4) Stop calling dentists physicians. They are distinct fields, and OMFS dentists should be proud of that. As a dental student aspiring to do OMFS, I don’t feel insecure about my title. I don’t need to be called physician. If I wanted that, I would have gone just to medical school.

        • Very VERY puzzled by the misinformation says:

          There’s quite a bit wrong with this.

          1) Rotations are not abbreviated. OMFS residents complete the full requirements necessary for the awarding of the MD from the respective medical school. They are able to complete medical school typically within 24 months because they are given advanced standing.

          If you believe that OMFS residents do not “deserve” the MD degree because they do not complete all 4 years, that’s a completely different argument. But as it stands, medical schools are giving OMFS residents MD degrees every year through this pathway. Odd how those institutions are granting MD degrees if the training is as “abbreviated” as you say.

          By the way: your claims of “8 weeks dental medicine,” “4-6 months of separate dental specific training” – This shows me you, and your ER doctor sister, know absolutely nothing about the training pathway.

          2) OMFS can absolutely apply for a medical license. How is this so difficult to understand? And as a side note: why would an OMFS practice as a family physician or a emergency room physician?

          Are you even a dental student? Odd how you have a VERY similar argument to a certain “Dr.” a few posts above. Which is it? Are you a “Dr.” posing as a dental student, or a dental student posing as a “Dr.” Even worse…. did you pose as a dental student to make false claims about the field of OMFS and some odd tangent about insecurity?

          Your assumptions reek of ignorance. Please – go and learn about the specialty, and stop spreading misinformation. It’s one thing to post an opinion, another to completely ignore the facts.

          • Richard Barry - Dental Student says:

            Speculate all that you want about who I am, I would be happy to email you personally and show you my dental school transcripts.

            Two of my upper classmates that went on to do OMFS, applied for a medical license and were denied. Mostly because the programs they went to abbreviated the “MD” courses, and only completed 6 months of general Surgery instead of 1 year. Also, more OMFS are raising their requirements (requiring 2 years of gen surgery) in order to apply. Most OMFS programs won’t provide their residents with that training.
            There have been a few people who have successfully applied. But that is like 6 people out of 100 OMFS, out of like 6,300 graduating dental student. They are the cream of the cream of the crop. Even then, they have a medical license but their training limits their scope of practice.

          • Response to Richard Barry says:

            (Posted here since reply button won’t proceed further down the chain.)
            You ARE talking about the United States, right?

            Everything you say is so, so wrong.

            Your points:

            “Abbreviated MD”
            – Again your opinion, I really don’t care about this, and neither does anyone in the real world. Interesting how you dodge the question, though – if the MD education is as abbreviated as you say, why are these top tier medical schools still cooperating with OMFS residencies to establish 6 year programs? Wouldn’t they care the most about the selectivity of their MD degree?
            “Also, more OMFS are raising their requirements (requiring 2 years of gen surgery) in order to apply.
            – What? Again, a clear demonstration that you have no idea how the process works. The gen surgery years are part of the residency, not something that is done prior to applying.
            “Most OMFS programs won’t provide their residents with that training.”
            – They don’t, because… *gasp* turns out those OMFS are practicing in a state that doesn’t require those years of official ACGME training. States differ in how many years they require.
            “There have been a few people who have successfully applied. But that is like 6 people out of 100 OMFS, out of like 6,300 graduating dental student”
            – Incorrect. 6 out of 100? Where did you get these numbers? There are hundreds, if not thousands of OMFS in the country who have dental and medical licenses.

            Finaly, a link showing PROOF:
            Bill Text – AB-1519 Healing arts.
            (2) Existing law requires an applicant for a physician’s and surgeon’s license to complete, among other things, 36 months of postgraduate training approved by the California Medical Board, including 4 months of general medicine training obtained in specified postgraduate training programs. Existing law authorizes an applicant who completes 24 of the 36 months as a resident after receiving a medical degree from a combined dental and medical degree program accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation or approved by the board to be eligible for licensure.

            (c) An applicant who has completed at least 36 months of board-approved postgraduate training, not less than 24 months of which was completed as part of an oral and maxillofacial surgery postgraduate training program as a resident after receiving a medical degree from a combined dental and medical degree program accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) or approved by the board, shall be eligible for licensure. Oral and maxillofacial surgery residency programs accredited by CODA shall be approved as postgraduate training required by this section if the applicant attended the program as part of a combined dental and medical degree program accredited by CODA. These applicants shall not have to comply with subdivision (b).

            “Richard Barry” is not a dental student. The tell is that no dental student has such oddly incorrect knowledge about OMFS. Clearly, he is either totally oblivious to the current OMFS training process, or (most likely) purposefully ignorant. He is so stuck on the belief that a dentist cannot obtain a medical license, that he is willing to play mental gymnastics to the extreme. Please wake up. The medical license is earned.

            For people who are reading this – do your research, talk to your peers. It quickly becomes clear what the truth is.

        • OMFS MD, DMD says:

          I think you should probably focus on getting your dental degree first before commenting on what you think you know about what it takes to complete and apply for state medical licensure. As someone who has completed an MD OMFS residency, your spread of misinformation is comical. And what is “abbreviated” medical school. No we actually go to medical school. (Programs like UCSF make their omfs residents do all 4 years of Med school again, which is unnecessary.) It’s not “abbreviated” (whatever that means) and 4-6 months of separate dental specific training? What is that? You sound foolish, and from the sounds of it you make your EM sister sound foolish too. No shit you won’t see OMFS working in an urgent care, nor will you see a neurosurgeon or a CT surgeon working in an urgent care or ED. People need to understand that all medical school does is set you up to a competency on being able to pass USMLE and taper into residency so you don’t make a fool out of yourself. Similar with dental school and dental boards. I ranked top 5% of my medical school class as an omfs resident and so did all my other co residents. We nearly always out performed our “single degree MD” counterparts in medical school and all other hospital residency rotations to include IM, NSGY, trauma, gen surg, plastics, anesthesia… you need to check your facts. So don’t be a fool, my MD gives me the right to call myself a physician and my DMD gives me the title dentist. Both are doctors. And if someone asks for a doctor on an airplane for a medical emergency, better be damn glad you have me on board or any OMFS. People need to stop confusing a general dentist with an OMFS. 2 very different careers that can work together for collaborative patient care. Similarly It’s like comparing a family Med doc to a neurosurgeon.

  33. Ali says:

    In my opinion, the very existing of this debate is because the word “dentist” does not necessarily convey the qualifications of a “doctor of teeth”. This is the case in the English language, while in many other languages this is different. In German, the word “Zahnartz” literally means “doctor of tooth”, which clearly states that dentists are “doctors”.

    The certificate of a dentist in many countries is a “professional doctorate”, which is different from Ph.D., and dentists are DDS (doctor of dental surgery) or DDM (doctor of dental medicine). It also has several specialties (periodontist, pedodontist, dental radiology, oral and maxillofacial surgery, prosthodontist, etc.)

    So, technically, dentists ARE doctors.

  34. Ali says:

    In my opinion, the very existence of this debate is because the word “dentist” does not necessarily convey the qualifications of a “doctor of teeth”. This is the case in the English language, while in many other languages this is different. In German, the word “Zahnartz” literally means “doctor of tooth”, which clearly states that dentists are “doctors”.
    The certificate of a dentist in many countries is a “professional doctorate”, which is different from Ph.D., and dentists are DDS (doctor of dental surgery) or DDM (doctor of dental medicine). It also has several specialties (periodontist, pedodontist, dental radiology, oral and maxillofacial surgery, prosthodontist, etc.)
    So, technically, dentists ARE doctors.

  35. Dental educator says:

    I swear there are plenty of arrogant assholes on this page that practice dentistry/medicine/nursing. I am a dental educator. I have been for 26 years. I know what I was taught in school and I know what is taught today. I am also a member of the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). In this role I visit dental schools and evaluate their curriculum to make sure they are teaching and evaluating within the standard set forth by the American Dental Association and CODA.

    When I was in school there I was not taught much about “medicine.” I was taught to diagnose diseases in patients to present to my instructor. Every patient that came into our school had blood drawn (by dental students) and every patient received a report on their comprehensive metabolic panel, blood glucose, CBC w/differential, liver enzymes, BUN, creatinine, GFR, and RPR. We had to know each of those tests, what the results meant and what could be happening to the patient beginning first year in dental school. Anatomy was waist up, physiology and pharmacology were the same as med school, and microbiology was even longer than in med school.Biochemistry was a few hours shorter. Internal medicine was a joke. Pathology, oral pathology, and oral medicine were a beast. But what many people do not know is there are ways for dentists to learn more medicine and work in a hospital environment. I wanted to learn more and did a 2-year post graduate residency. During that time I got my fingers wet in many specialties, Internal medicine, Cardiology, ENT, General anesthesia, and Emergency medicine which at the time was really all we thought a dentist might run into in their private practice. Included in all of the was Geriatrics, and Pediatrics. I diagnosed hypertension, diabetes, and liver disease (all those labs from dental school helped here) to name a few.
    I also ordered x-rays, and lab tests when needed. I learned how to listen to the heart and lung sounds to diagnose heart murmurs, arrhythmias and pneumomia. I took BLS in dental school and ACLS. I reported on rounds to the fellow and/or attending physician present. I started IVs, intubated people, started ART lines, inserted catheters, did cranial, physical, rectal and vaginal exams, pronounced people dead and signed the death papers.
    Today I teach the medically compromised course at my dental school and the geriatrics course. Do I teach dental students the same amount of diseases as medical students get? Probably not. My dental students only study 84 diseases with a few syndromes. They learn the classical and new treatments used to diagnose and treat diseases,and they learn the classic and new medications on the market. In addition they also have to know the side effects, adverse reactions, and drug interactions that occur from what other physicians prescribe as well as what dentists prescribed. They have to know the impact on the oral cavity and what precautions have to be taken prior to treating a patient and what limitations from the disease impact how the patient is to be restored dentally. Everyone of my dental students, knows how to take blood pressure, fasting blood glucose, listen to heart and lung sounds, test deep tendon reflexes, eye and pupillary exams and a cranial nerve exam.
    As a CODA accreditor, I have found every school I have been to teaches almost the exact things. Meaning there is a lot of medicine being taught to dental students. And another thing, every oral surgeon has been taught this and they have learned and done more. So does this mean we are specialists and should only remain in someone’s mouth? Absolutely not! But if I am on a plane having a heart attack and the only other healthcare person on the plane is a dentist or an oral surgeon, you bet your sweet ass I want him or her taking care of me! If you don’t, then I guess a part-time stewardess will be your savior. Or you will just die.

  36. Just a Dentist says:

    Dental Educator,

    Thank you! I also think EVERY single doctor that specializes in head/neck anatomy/oral cavity enjoys sitting back quietly like the humble OMFS on the airplane and experiences more internal satisfaction than any MD on the planet. We know all our medically sound doctoral training that many of us did take with our medical colleagues specializing in whatever his/her specialty in private/hospital training is today. We also know our quality of life (I work 2.5 days/week), on average, is much more enjoyable than most of our medical colleagues that I will give “weekend/late night call, emergency/life-making decisions” ALL day long.
    And please don’t forget that we, “dentists,” are also insurance firms, business owners, and parents titled in one doctoral degree. DDS or DMD degrees are actually the MOST competitive medical degrees sought after today due to the most beautiful quality of life “we oral cavity , (get it?), doctors have chosen to practice. I would actually trust a dentist to do most of any medical procedure on my body while billing the insurance correctly, managing what time was most conducive for my lifestyle to have said procedure rendered to be in my best personal interest while profiting myself, and all knowing that over the three day weekend I spend time with my own family, that I had entered into the best medical/business professions God has blessed me with in my life.

    Warm regards,
    Just a Dentist ❤️

    • Just a Dentist says:

      I forgot a quotation mark and grammatically incorrect wording drives me nuts! Apologies to my English/Literature former educators!

    • Silvia Eliquez says:

      This has got to be the most ridiculous pep talk I have ever heard.
      I am not a doctor, or a dentist. I am just a nurse practitioner.
      What I know is this. Just because you can use a stethoscope, does not give you the perceptive discriminatory ability of a physician. In your statement you admit the biggest difference and WEAKNESS that makes oral health professionals unqualified for emergencies. “You work 2.5 days/week”… there is the problem. Physicians are a billion percent invested in medicine. Working 80 hour weeks for 8 year in training. They live and breath it 24 hours a day without rest. Their minds are constantly forced to think critically and challenge lab values based if they don’t fit a clinical picture. Your amateur dentist, NP, or PA might treat a lab value, but a physician has unparalleled discriminatory capability.
      I would not let a dentist on an airplane touch me. That being said, thank God that dentists are not quacks, and that they at least practice scientific healthcare like NPs and PAs. You are a doctor… but you aren’t a physician.

      • Dr. Rob M. says:

        A lot may be up to perception or debate….. but one thing that is not, is that a dentist is a doctor… It’s simply incorrect to say a Dentist or a Doctor.. Doctor is a general term that Dentist falls under…. We are talking semantics. It’s simply ignorant to say Dentist or Doctor. It’s like saying an apple or a fruit. Get over it nurse.

  37. Dental educator says:

    “Just a Nurse Practitioner”-

    I am going to assume you were taught in NP school that the NPs began in 1965. I m also going to assume you have not been a nurse practitioner very long, If I am wrong, I apologize. Yuu have have made some assumptions that are not entirely true. I was born the year NPs came into being. If so many physicians were “working 80 hours a week for 8 years in training” we would not have needed NPs in 1965 especially since the population was much less in number. However as a child in the 1970’s I know for a fact that physicians did not work 80 hours a week and many of them worked 2-3 days a week. Why? Because they could! So you pick on one dentist who works 2-3 hours a week and assume all dentists are unqualified and cannot think critically. Based on your response previously, I do not know if you are qualified or can think critically. In this current age of education, we know students make much better grades than they actually should because of grade inflation that occurs in every professional school. That being said, take your scores from nursing school and NP school and reduce them by one letter grade. That probably represents the true knowledge you have. And another thing, if you really want to know what a dentist knows and can do, I would move to an Interprofessional Practice environment to see the interaction.

    Dental educator

  38. Silvia Eliquez says:

    I finished nursing school in 1995, an have been a NP since 2005. I have 25 years of experience working in hospitals, small practice, surgery, and ED. What kind of crack are you smoking that leads you to believe resident physicians works 2-3 days? Back in the 90s and 2000s, I watched them work 80-125 hours/week. That being said, mistakes were made after 100 hrs/week, people died, laws changed and now they can only work 80/week which means NPs and PAs have to pick up the slack. Because of the hour rule change, many residencies are adding another year of training (ER went from 3 to 4) (neurosurgery is now a 7 year residency).
    The only time I have seen a physician work a low 40hr work week is if the physician is very old (70+ years) and works in an outpatient private practice.
    I have worked with OMFS dentists in the hospital too. I love our family dentist. But you should stop spreading the illusion that Dentists are trained to think like physicians, they just aren’t. Thats like claiming Dentists are just like NPs. Dentists know nothing about the nursing model, so it’s impossible.
    Just be proud to be a dentist. Period. Its a great field of oral healthcare.

  39. Silvia Eliquez says:

    Also, I like how you mention “intelligence” but your post is littered with typos and grammatical errors.
    I doubt you are an educator. You are probably a disgruntled dental student who failed the MCAT – took the DAT – and are now trying to save face.
    There are 2 types of Dental students. 1) Those who wanted to be a dentist.
    2) Those who wanted to be a physician, but either failed the MCAT or chose dentistry because the training and lifestyle is easier.
    Chances are, if you care THAT much about society thinking you are just like a physician, then you were/are that 2nd type of student. Still insecure about your career switch. Maybe its because your parents always wanted you to be a physician. Maybe, you were smart enough to go to med school, and now you are bored cleaning teeth and fantasize what could have been. I don’t know. I feel sorry for you.

    • Jheeeez says:

      Everybody calm down! Gonna spread some love. Are we really going to let our egos get in the way of professional healthcare etiquette? Are we not better than that? To me this whole thing is one big foogazi because our society idealizes “doctors”. If the word doctor were eliminated half of our problems would evaporate with it. Then people would say Hi I’m Mr. Smith, your proctologist. Or I’m Mr. Johnson, your (deep breath) oral and maxillofacial surgeon. That’s a mouthful.

      This post started because a flight attendant (allegedly) said that the guy trying to help is “just an oral surgeon”, which to me doesn’t sound right. Who says that? Especially if you’re a flight attendant in need of help, and a qualified SURGEON is there to help you. It’s the first time I’ve heard the words “Just a”, and “surgeon” used in the same sentence. If she had said he’s just a dentist, that’s different. We’ve heard that before, as mentioned, in the roast of Dr. F****t in the Hangover movie, and elsewhere.

      And yes, the OMS may have had an MD too, and may have been board certified, passed step 1-3 etc. But who gives a shit. The guy got up to help because he was competent. Only he knew that.

      Also, this problem does not exist outside of north americanesque healthcare education because oral surgery is firstly a specialty of dentistry and only second a specialty of medicine here, unlike in European style healthcare education. So if you really want to flex the OMFS no strings attached, fly over after this covid thing and flex it on them European broads.

  40. hadi says:

    You all are crazy, LOL. This is why i am on my way of becoming a nurse practitioner and dentist. I can do all, eat that !

    • Jasmeet kumar (dmd) says:

      (Dental student here)
      In all seriousness, If it weren’t for Chiropractors, NPs would be the joke of the healthcare industry. Everyone knows NPs have little-to-no education, they wear a long white coat and introduce themselves “doctor” to gain the patient’s trust. Sure, many NPs have a “doctorate”, but they aren’t physicians. Furthermore, there is no governing body for specialists in the NP world. You can bounce around from field to field and recklessly prescribe drugs. In the next 10 years, we are going to witness many NPs lose their license and some go to jail. My mom is a Dentist. My dad is a nurse. My mom went to a hormone clinic because of menopause, and the young NP put her on extra thyroid hormones to help her lose weight (even though her thyroid tests were normal). My mom then developed Afib from the thyroid excess. The NP never got in trouble, and she put my mom’s life at risk. NPs are reckless, and only the ones who have been practicing for 20 years actually know what they are doing. NPs can jump around from specialty to specialty, with little to no training. Whereas physicians and dentists actually specialize and master an area of health care.

  41. Dr.Sanjay says:

    The contents are quite interesting. I will be waiting for your next post. Thank you very much for sharing this useful information. I always want and love reading quality contents. Keep sharing more details. This could be helpful to my new dental clinic

  42. This article was incredibly articulate and had a good fluency of writing. This article will be something that our website of dermatology medical billing services will definitely look into. I want to thank you for giving such an accurate analysis regarding dermatology medical billing.

  43. Steve Bishop says:

    What? Oral surgeons literally go through med school to become an MD. I would have fought back, educate them since they are so uneducated. You’re not just a dentist, you literally have an MD…

  44. A routine for any dentist ! Well written blog!

  45. Ankita Roy says:

    Contents are quite impressive. Well written Article!

  46. A dentist is doctor, dentists perform surgery, examine, diagnose and treat disease of the oral cavity, they use the “Dr” title and run a specialist clinic as well
    It’s quite laughable to see some insecure med students ranting up their asses, in africa as a whole dental school is affiliated to a medical school, and the curriculum for either med or dent for pre-clinicals to clinicals in the first five years is identical, dental students study full body anat, physio, biochem, embryology, pharm/path e.t.c, for the first 4 years and sit for the same exams with med students and same pass mark, in the 5th year dental students rotate; medicine, surgery, pediatrics and anesthesiology, do medical ward postings and sit for the same exams again with final year med students+ the dental courses they study and dental clinic quota they carryout… No dentist is claiming to be a physician here, and certainly no dentist is well prepared to handle an emergency like a physician, but dentists can be of a great help during an EM

  47. To add^ Apart from the med rotations dental students do here, we’re also taught relationship between medicine and dentistry in our dental schools… In Africa when you say medical students dental students are also included, we didn’t spend 6years in school counting teeth, we graduate with the license to prescribe drugs, perform dental surgeries, treat patients, open a specialist clinic(dental), be called dental SURGEONS, and use the “Dr.” prefix, how else will you describe a doctor?, dentists don’t have to claim the physician doc, we are doctors by our profession… and for the real doctor trend, the only real doctors are PhD Holders… The original meaning of doctor comes from the latin word docere, which means TEACHER, other doctors are doctors in the sense of diagnosing and treating patients,

    if i introduce myself to someone as a dentist, and the person replies “oh you’re not a doctor” or “not a real doctor”, I’ll just laugh and respond “i’m not just a doctor, i’m a dentist, a super doctor” Case closed

  48. You didn’t get the context there, nobody said a dentist is as trained as a physician to handle an emergency, all we are trying to say is that dentists can also help during an emergency, where there’s no physician.. I know that different countries have different curriculums but trust me in africa dental students study 90% of what med students study from general anatomy to clinical rotation in medicine, surgery, pediatrics and anesthesiology, including ward postings and writing the same exams dental students do them all, they only difference is that dental students don’t study ob/gyn and psychiatry, they don’t also rotate round medicine during internships, i’m not trying to say that a dentist is a physician, all i’m trying to point out is that dentists have wide exposure in the medical field, not to the standard of a physician, cos that’s not our field, but i’m pretty sure no dentists will mess up if they attempt any medical emergency.
    and again we are proudly dentists, “doctors of oral health” not a physicians

  49. Alpha says:

    The egos in this comment thread are insane.

    As a medical student, I am well aware that my first two years have not prepared me to handle emergency situations. Even after 3rd and 4th year, the idea that I am prepared for these emergency situations is questionable. So to all the medical students on here, we should all recognize that it isn’t until residency that we really get the skills to deal with stuff like this.

    To all the dental students. It is absolutely true that you know more about medicine than I do about dentistry. As I alluded to above though, the idea that taking physiology classes makes you prepared to handle emergency situations is laughable. You guys are absolutely doctors and are incredibly knowledgeable beyond just your field, but hands-on training and experience is the only way to be prepared for situations like this.

    As for the OMFS, that is legit. No idea why medical students are throwing shade at that. I would trust and OMFS as much as dermatologists, endocrinologists, etc. in an emergency situation. Outside of maybe an ER, ICU, and a few other specialties though can be real and acknowledge that a nurse that works in acute care or a paramedic is way more prepared to handle these situations than just about any medical specialty. Outside of an ER, there is rarely anything an emergency physician could do that a paramedic could not. I am so tired of all the egos in fields like dentistry and medicine, get over yourselves people.

    Also, to the guy saying NP’s are the joke of medicine. How did you get through a professional degree and yet cannot recognize the irony of disrespecting another medical professional in the comment section of an article about respecting other medical professionals. NP’s are rad. I would take an NP who works in the ER above any physician in a non-emergency care field.

  50. Peds DDS says:

    The ignorance in this thread is amazing. If you have an emergency on a plane of course a dentist will step forward to help. Dentist know a lot more about emergency medicine than the layman may think. I am pediatric dentist and as part of my residency training I took call and was at the hospital for 36 hours straight just like the medical residents working with with the nurses and ER physicians to address dental emergencies in the ER. We are also trained to deal with a medical emergencies because any emergency that can happen on a plane can happen in a dental chair. Patients can have allergic reactions, strokes, heart attacks and airway obstructions while undergoing dental treatment and as dentists we are trained to recognize and address these emergencies. If you have not gone through dental school or a dental residency program please keep your ignorant opinions to yourself.

  51. Doctor Dental says:

    Doctors include physicians(work mostly with medicine and little to no surgery) and surgeon s(work mostly with surgery and little medicine)

    Dentists ARE Doctors (they are both physicians and surgeons)
    Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons are among the most qualified Doctors on the planet.

    It’s sad to see that Dental surgeons and Dental physicians aren’t respected as much as they should be. There is no alternative speciality for dental and oral treatment in medicine. It just so happens that Dentistry is often separated from the rest of the medical field.
    There would be little argument had Dentistry been incorporated into the traditional Medical curriculum like Ophthalmology globally.

    Coming down to handling emergencies… It’s about who knows what to do… Could be a doctor by qualification who knows BLS. Could be a LifeGuard who knows BLS.

    A dental surgeon can be more adept at handling emergencies than a Radiologist or Pathologist even though the later pair went to Medical School and Residency.

    Similarly people employed in emergency medicine including surgeons, physicians, nurses, paramedics would be the best option to take care of someone facing such a situation, simply because they would have the most experience in that field.

  52. Medical Doctor says:

    Training varies with country…

    As far as Nigeria is concerned, Dental students do virtually everything medical students do except OBGY… Both medical and dental students start the use of stethoscope same year…

    Dental undergo same Preclinicals with additional dental courses and almost same Clinical with additional dental course

  53. Joy Levin says:

    Dentists are becoming more skilled in caring for women and men differently. Ask the dentist about his or her recent training and experience specifically related to your condition and your gender.

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