J Dent Hyg Sci.  2021 Mar;21(1):8-18. 10.17135/jdhs.2021.21.1.8.

The Past and Current Status of Dentists in Japan

  • 1Graduate School of Biomedical and Health Sciences, Hiroshima University, Hiroshima 734-8553, Japan
  • 2Department of Oral Epidemiology, Graduate School of Biomedical and Health Sciences, Hiroshima University, Hiroshima 734-8553, Japan
  • 3Department of Dental Hygiene, Division of Health Science, Baekseok University, Cheonan 31065, Korea
  • 4Department of Dental Hygiene, College of Medical Science, Konyang University, Daejeon 35365, Korea


The purpose of this study is to provide the general history of fostering dentists in Japan and introducing their new roles. This research was conducted based on the government policy report on dentists and the information published by each educational institution. Based on the collected data, the official websites were used to represent the latest statistics of the institutions. The number of dentists in Japan has increased. The government established the National Examination for Dentists to guarantee the quality of dentists. After the standards for developing questions for the national examination were established in 1985, the contents of the examination have been appropriately improved by revising the standards every four years. This improvement has required dental students to study a variety of subjects for six years at dental school. Since dentists in Japan are required to respond to various demands from the nation; the Model Core Curriculum for Dental Education was developed to teach medical ethics and abilities to ensure that dentists conduct themselves professionally. Recently, the roles of dentists have been changing in Japan. When providing dental services to older patients over the age of 65, dentists and other dental professions focus on maintaining oral functions, such as saliva secretion, bite force, tongue movement, and masticatory/swallowing functions. However, oral function-related services for children are different. In addition to providing essential dental services, dental practitioners also provide special treatment, such as oral muscle training, myofunctional therapy, health guidance, and space retainers to the child patients with developmental insufficiency in oral functions. Dentistry in Japan has undergone numerous changes over the years and has continued to offer high-quality dental health services. Thus, information gained from the Japanese experience may be helpful to dental professions in other developed countries for planning oral health measures.


Curriculum; Dentist; Japan; National examination; Work place; Work role
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