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Your dentist, a partner in your health

Dentists are doctors who care for patients’ mouths and teeth. They are health professionals who use examinations to prevent, detect, diagnose and treat deficiencies, abnormalities and injuries in people's teeth, mouths, jaws and gums. Dentists may also prescribe medication.

Most dentists in Quebec work in private practice. Some work in the public sector, particularly in the fields of prevention and public dental health.

Others opt for a career in administration, research or teaching, generally within a school of dentistry.

The practice of dentistry in Quebec is overseen by the Ordre des dentistes du Québec (ODQ).


In Quebec, it takes four or five years of study to earn a doctorate in dental medicine, depending on the university attended. A dentist may then choose to continue studying, in one of the specialties recognized by the ODQ.

To practise dentistry in Quebec, a dentist must hold a degree from a Quebec university or have a degree or training from outside Quebec that is recognized by the Order. He or she must also pass the Order’s examination to obtain a permit.

1. Oral and maxillofacial surgery

Surgery that is more specialized than general dental surgery, for instance when a patient has suffered an accident or has defects or malformations in the jaw and facial bones.

2. Pediatric dentistry

The diagnosis, prevention and treatment of oral disease, anomalies and accidents among children, from birth to adolescence.

3. Endodontics

A branch of dentistry concerned with the pulp chamber, i.e. the central cavity of the tooth containing dental pulp, nerves and blood vessels, and the root canals, which carry blood vessels and nerves toward the dental pulp. These dentists are specialists in root canal treatments.

4. Oral medicine

Diagnosis and non-surgical treatment of diseases and lesions of the mouth and temporomandibular disorders (joints, muscles, dental occlusion, tongue, etc.).

5. Orthodontics

The diagnosis, prevention and treatment of anomalies in the positioning of the teeth and bones that can lead to dental malocclusions (improperly positioned teeth) or improper contact between teeth, for functional and esthetic purposes. The orthodontist is the specialist in fixed corrective devices (“braces”) and removable corrective devices.

6. Periodontics

The diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the tissues and bones that support the teeth.

7. Oral and maxillofacial pathology

The clinical and microscopic diagnosis, management and treatment (mainly non surgical) of diseases and physiological problems affecting the mouth or jaw.

8. Prosthodontics

The restoration or replacement of natural teeth by means of prostheses, veneers, implants, crowns and bridges that the dentist fashions and fits.

9. Oral and maxillofacial radiology

The interpretation of images obtained by various imaging technologies in order to establish a radiographic diagnosis of diseases and conditions affecting the oral cavity, jaws and face.

10. Dental public health

The development and management of community public dental health programs.

In addition to preventive care, a dentist may:

  • restore damaged teeth
  • perform surgery on gums and jaws
  • replace missing teeth with bridges, partial or complete dentures and implants

Whether they are generalists or specialists, dentists can perform all dental procedures.

However, before beginning treatment, the dentist must consider the limits of his or her skills, knowledge and means at his or her disposal. He or she may also refer the patient to another generalist or specialist.

A referral is not necessary for a patient to consult a specialist.