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Dentistry, also known as dental medicine and oral medicine, is the branch of medicine focused on the teeth, gums, and mouth. It consists of the study, diagnosis, prevention, management, and treatment of diseases, disorders, and conditions of the mouth, most commonly focused on dentition (the development and arrangement of teeth) as well as the oral mucosa. Dentistry may also encompass other aspects of the craniofacial complex including the temporomandibular joint. The practitioner is called a dentist.
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The history of dentistry is almost as ancient as the history of humanity and civilization, with the earliest evidence dating from 7000 BC to 5500 BC. Dentistry is thought to have been the first specialization in medicine which has gone on to develop its own accredited degree with its own specializations. Dentistry is often also understood to subsume the now largely defunct medical specialty of stomatology (the study of the mouth and its disorders and diseases) for which reason the two terms are used interchangeably in certain regions. However, some specialties such as oral and maxillofacial surgery (facial reconstruction) may require both medical and dental degrees to accomplish. In European history, dentistry is considered to have stemmed from the trade of barber surgeons.
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). Most dentists either work in private practices (primary care), dental hospitals, or (secondary care) institutions (prisons, armed forces bases, etc.).
The modern movement of evidence-based dentistry calls for the use of high-quality scientific research and evidence to guide decision-making such as in manual tooth conservation, use of fluoride water treatment and fluoride toothpaste, dealing with oral diseases such as tooth decay and periodontitis, as well as systematic diseases such as osteoporosis, diabetes, celiac disease, cancer, and HIV/AIDS which could also affect the oral cavity. Other practices relevant to evidence-based dentistry include radiology of the mouth to inspect teeth deformity or oral malaises, haematology (study of blood) to avoid bleeding complications during dental surgery, cardiology (due to various severe complications arising from dental surgery with patients with heart disease), etc.