Dentistry is the practice of dental science. In most countries, to become a qualified dentist, one needs several years of training in a university (usually 4-5) and some practical experience working with actual patients' dentition.
In Australia, graduating dentists have either a B.D.S. (Bachelor of Dental Surgery) or B.D.Sc degree (Bachelor of Dental Science).
Specialties in dentistry such as orthodontics (straightening of teeth), oral and maxillofacial surgery, pedodontics (treatment for children), periodontics (treatment of gum disease), prosthodontics (replacement of missing teeth by prosthesis such as dentures, bridges and dental implants), conservative dentistry (restoration of existing teeth),endodontics (root canal therapy), dental public health (study of dental epidemiology and social health policies), forensic odontology (gathering and use of dental evidence in law), oral radiology and oral pathology (study of oral and dentally related diseases) would require usually between 2-3 years of further formal university training. Specialists in these fields might be designated registrable and can sometimes lay claim to exclusive titles such as orthodontist, oral surgeon, pedodontist, periodontist, prosthodontist upon satisfying certain local registry requirements.
Other dental "specialties" exists where no post-graduate formal university training are required : cosmetic dentistry, dental implant, temperal-mandibular joint therapy. These usually require the attendance of one or more "hotel courses" that typically last for one to several days. There is usually no restriction for these dentists to call themselves specialists in these fields when the "specialist" titles are not restrictive and registrable titles controlled by the local dental licensing bodies.
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For most of the early colonial period dentistry was a rare and unusual practice in Canada. In severe situations barbers or blacksmith would pull a tooth, but for many years Canada lagged behind European advances. The first dentists in Canada were United Empire Loyalists who fled the American Revolution. The first recorded dentist in Canada was a Mr. Hume who advertised in a Halifax newspaper in 1814.
Druing the first half of the 19th century dentistry expanded rapidly. In 1867 the Ontario Dental Association was formed and in 1868 they founded Canada's first dental school in Toronto, the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario. Originally not considered a true science the University of Toronto agreed to be affiliated with the dental school. As time passed other Canadian universities also created dentistry programmes.
The longest record for such ongoing and routine training and qualifying requirement for dental specialties in the world exists in Hong Kong where 6 years of pre-specialty, formal training and supervised practice are prescribed. It is uncertain if trainees there are more intellectually challenged than those in, say, North America, Australia or the United Kingdom where the specialty route would only take 2-3 years. It is accepted that only after 6 years of such training would the trainees achieve an equivalent level of professional competence to that attained by their counterparts in the western world.