‘Are dentists doctors?’ Though it may sound offensive at times, this question is not really new for some dental professionals. It is even part of the comedic dialogue in the American movie “The Hangover,” where one of the cast members plays the role of a dentist. His claim that he is a dentist while being drunk or under the influence sparked comedy and sarcasm with his doctor and his friends. But, are dentists really considered doctors? Are they allowed to use the title ‘doctor’?
Are dentists doctors? : How to become a dentist
There are two ways aspiring dentists can follow to become a dental professional in Australia. The first is to take the Undergraduate Medical and Health Sciences Admission Test (UMAT) and achieve a competitive high school rank (HSR) depending on your state. Undergoing an interview after passing the UMAT is the next step in order to enter dental school. With this approach, you will spend three years doing undergraduate studies and two years postgrad course, a total of 5 years in dental school.
The other way is to have undergraduate studies for at least three years, pass the Graduate Medical School Admissions Test (GAMSAT), have a high GPA during your undergraduate course, and pass the interview. These three requirements warrant your entry to a 4-year postgraduate course that will ultimately make you a dentist.
Are dentists doctors? : The title issue
The title ‘doctor’ has been part of the identity of the dentists since their university education. Different universities offer courses that would, later on, allow their graduates to be called DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) or DMD (Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry or Doctor of Dental Medicine). These two are essentially the same degrees. Dentists who have a DMD or DDS to their titles have the same educational attainment. It’s up to the Australian university or school to determine what degree is awarded, but it is safe to say that both have the same set of course requirements.
Are dentists doctors? : What the Dental Board says
According to the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, the reckless usage of titles to insinuate that a person is a health professional is legally prohibited. Moreover, the use of specialist health titles by professionals who are not registered as specialists is also sanctioned with penalties for breaches of the National Law.
However, there is no law that prohibits dentists to use the title ‘doctor’. As long as you are a licensed dentist or specialist dentist, the use of the title ‘doctor’ is allowed. Even using this title for advertising purposes is acceptable as long as the dental practitioner is a registered dentist or hold a doctorate degree. Otherwise, a practicing dental staff who recklessly uses the title without license or dental certification commits an offence punishable by law.
Knowing who your dentists are and carefully considering their credentials prevents you from encountering dental accidents and mishaps. It also gives you the peace of mind and confidence that a certified dentist is helping you to take good care of your dental health.