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J Public Health Dent. 1996;56(5 Spec No):286-90.

The dental curriculum: what should be new in the 21st century?

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Clinical Investigations and Patient Care Branch, National Institute of Dental Research, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892-1190, USA.


Dental education is at a critical juncture. The success of water fluoridation has reduced the caries burden of Americans and, consequently, has raised questions about the disproportionate technical emphasis on treating the sequelae of caries in US dental schools. Additionally, several powerful external factors-such as changing demographics, advances in biological science, fundamental changes in our health care delivery system, and a modest US economy-are forcing dental educators to question the appropriateness of retaining the current dental curriculum into the 21st century. The author considers these factors, suggests what type of dentist will be needed by society in approximately 20 years, and concludes that today's dental educational system is inadequate to produce such a dentist. Several elements, in addition to technical excellence, are required for the dental curriculum, including major changes in pedagogy, relevant science training, practical fluency in medicine, an increased mix of stomatologic skills, and broader contact with other health care providers.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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