The Science of the Tooth

Farmer at the dentist,
Johann Liss, c. 1616-17.
Medieval dentist
extracting a tooth. London; c. 1360-75.

Our teeth is among the strongest parts of our body. The enamel layer of our teeth is strong and yet can be made porous by bacterial action. Due to the size of our teeth that is rather small, treatment requires very specialized tools, instruments and strong non-toxic materials.

The tooth anatomy can be seen in this picture:

Tooth Anatomy

The outmost layer, enamel, is followed by the dentin layer which is slightly yellowish in colour. The innermost layer connecting our tooth to our nerves is the pulp layer. Pain is experienced when infection reaches the pulp causing our nerves to be exposed to food, acid and heat.

The Dentist

A dentist (or Dental Surgeon) is a healthcare professional qualified to practice dentistry after graduating with a degree. There are various types of Degree such as:
  • Bachelor of Dental Surgery.
  • Bachelor of Dentistry (BDent).
  • Bachelor of Dental Science (BDSc).
  • Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS).
  • Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD).

The Dental Profession

Some milestones of the dental profession include:
  • The father of modern dentistry: It is said that the 17th century French physician Pierre Fauchard started dentistry science as we know it today, and he has been named "the father of modern dentistry".
  • The first dental school: The Baltimore College of Dental Surgery, the first dental school in the world, opened in Baltimore, Maryland in 1840, and in 1867 Harvard Dental School became the first dental school affiliated with a university.
  • First dental law: In England, the 1878 British Dentists Act and 1879 Dentists Register limited the title of "dentist" and "dental surgeon" to qualified and registered practitioners. The practice of dentistry in the United Kingdom became fully regulated with the 1921 Dentists Act, which required the registration of anyone practicing dentistry..

Dental Association

The British Dental Association, formed in 1880 with Sir John Tomes as president, played a major role in prosecuting dentists practicing illegally.

We have the Malaysian Dental Association and the Malaysian Private Dental Practitioners Association that promotes the interests of dental surgeons.

The Malaysian Dental Council is the governing organization that regulates and monitors various aspects of dental practice in Malaysia.

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