What is dentistry?

The term

The term dentistry comes from dentist, which comes from French Dentiste, which comes from the French and Latin words for tooth.

A branch of medicine

Dentistry, also known as Dental and Oral Medicine, is a branch of medicine. It consists of the study, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases, disorders, and conditions of the oral cavity. These are commonly in the dentition but also the oral mucosa, and of adjacent and related structures and tissues. Particularly in the maxillofacial (jaw and facial) area.

Although primarily associated with teeth among the general public, the field of dentistry or dental medicine is not limited to teeth. It includes other aspects of the craniofacial complex. This includes the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and other supporting, muscular, lymphatic, nervous, vascular, and anatomical structures.


Dentistry is often also understood to subsume the now largely defunct medical speciality of stomatology (the study of the mouth and its disorders and diseases). The two terms are used interchangeably in certain regions particularly in Poland.

Dental treatments are carried out by a dental team, which often consists of a dentist and dental auxiliaries (dental assistants, dental hygienists, dental technicians, as well as dental therapists).


The history of dentistry is almost as ancient as the history of humanity and civilization with the earliest evidence dating from 7000 BC. Remains from the early Harappan periods of the Indus Valley Civilization (c. 3300 BC) show evidence of teeth having been drilled dating back 9,000 years.

Education of dentists in Poland is high and regulation is strict. To become a qualified dentist in Poland, students must first undergo five years of training at university. After completing their five-year course, graduates begin a 12-month work experience program. During this time, they are only able to perform treatments under supervision. Following this, they must pass another exam in order to become fully qualified.