How to Find the Right Dentist

Earlier this month news broke about David (Tung Sheng) Wu who operated an illegal dental office without any training or proper hygienic standards. The thought of patients receiving such poor dental care prompted me to write this article about what things you should look for when seeking a good qualified dental professional.

Education Matters

It surprises many but it takes 7-8 years to be a qualified general dentist. You must obtain a high grade point average of about an A in University. Most dentists get a Bachelors or Masters degree before they are accepted into dental school. There are dental schools all over the world however to practice dentistry in Canada without any supplementary education you must receive your degree from a North American Dental School that is accredited by the Canadian Dental Association. Dental school is usually 4 years in length and it involves multiple didactic and clinical tests before a degree is rewarded.

A dental degree is designated as: 1) Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or 2) Doctor of Dental Medicine (DDM). Both degrees are in essence the same. Once 7-8 years of education is completed the dentist must apply for a provincial license. In most provinces this involves proof of your degree, a background check and various fees.

Additional Specialization

Some dentists do additional training to gain even more expertise in performing complex root canals, gum surgery, extractions, implants, orthodontic treatments and pediatric dentistry. For instance, I completed a 2 year dental residency program at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto. I worked side by side with specialists such as endodontists, orthodontists, periodontists, pedodontists and oral surgeons to gain knowledge and experience to bring these procedures to my dental patients. It was an intensive program and I am glad that I did it. Some dentists go even a step further. If they find an aspect of dentistry they really enjoy they can specialize in that field. This involved another 3-5 years of training to become a specialist.

Practical Experience

Also all dental professionals are required to complete 90 hours of continuing education in a three year cycle. This involves attending didactic or clinical courses about relevant current dental topics and procedures.

Licensed to Practice

To ensure that your dentist is licensed and in good standing to practice dentistry you can search the College of Dental Surgeons of British Columbia Directory

As you can see there are a lot of steps involved in becoming a licensed dental professional. Furthermore there are governing bodies that regulate and ensure that we are providing up to date sound dental care. However being a great dentist also involves a fantastic staff, sound office protocols and infection control standards.

– Dr. Andrew Ho (BSC, DDS)