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During the Middle Ages and throughout the 19th century, dentistry was not a profession in itself, and often dental procedures were performed by barbers or general physicians.Barbers usually limited their practice to extracting teeth which alleviated pain and associated chronic tooth infection.In ancient Egypt, Hesi-Re is the first named "dentist" (greatest of the teeth).The Egyptians bound replacement teeth together with gold wire.Roman medical writer Cornelius Celsus wrote extensively of oral diseases as well as dental treatments such as narcotic-containing emollients and astringents.Historically, dental extractions have been used to treat a variety of illnesses.Though not mandatory, many dentists choose to complete an internship or residency focusing on specific aspects of dental care after they have received their dental degree.Some dentists undertake further training after their initial degree in order to specialize.
This is equivalent to the Bachelor of Dental Surgery/Baccalaureus Dentalis Chirurgiae (BDS, BDent, BCh D, BDSc) that is awarded in the UK and British Commonwealth countries.
In most western countries, to become a qualified dentist one must usually complete at least four years of postgraduate study; within the European Union the education has to be at least five years.
Dentists usually complete between five and eight years of post-secondary education before practising.
A sagittal cross-section of a molar tooth; 1: crown, 2: root, 3: enamel, 4: dentin and dentin tubules, 5: pulp chamber, 6: blood vessels and nerve, 7: periodontal ligament, 8: apex and periapical region, 9: alveolar bone The first dental college, Baltimore College of Dental Surgery, opened in Baltimore, Maryland, US in 1840.
The second in the United States was the Philadelphia College of Dental Surgery, established in 1852.
Dentists also encourage prevention of oral diseases through proper hygiene and regular, twice yearly, checkups for professional cleaning and evaluation.