Change in the Specialty’s Name, from “Operative Dentistry” to “Endodontics & Operative Dentistry

Change in the Specialty’s Name, from “Operative Dentistry” to “Endodontics & Operative Dentistry
Farhan Raza Khan 1 , Shakeel Khattak 2 , Bilal Bakht Ansari 3

1 Assistant Professor & Director Residency Program, Aga Khan University, Stadium Road, 74800 Karachi, Pakistan.
2 Assistant Professor, Operative Dentistry, Sardar Begum Dental College, Peshawar.
3 Private Practice, Scotland, United kingdom.
Correspondence: Farhan Raza Khan

How to CITE:

Khan FR, Khattak S, Ansari BB. Change in the Specialty’s name, from “Operative Dentistry” to “Endodontics & Operative Dentistry”Guest Editorial. J Pak Dent Assoc. 2012;21(4):195-196.


By definition, the term “Operative Dentistry” refers to the art and science of diagnosis, treatment and prognosis of the defects of teeth that do not require cuspal coverage.1 With the emergence of specialties such as Endodontics, Prosthodontics and Periodontology evolving out of Operative Dentistry, the nomenclature has largely become outdated in the west.2 In most developed countries, operative dentistry currently refers to just preparing teeth for fillings, inlays and onlays. In Pakistan, the dental academia has still adhered to obsolete name of “Operative Dentistry. This has distorted the scope of the specialty and has misrepresented the identity of specialist trained in this field. Table 1 shows the comparison of dental diplomas awarded by College of Physicians and Surgeons Pakistan and other institutions in the world.

* In USA, two additional boards forOral Radiology and Oral Pathology exist.
** No program exists in Pakistan for Periodontology, Community Dentistryand Pediatric Dentistry.

Internationally, Operative Dentistry is not considered a specialty.3,4 In USA, it neither has any recognition at the Commission for Dental Accreditation (CODA) nor does any specialty board exist with this name.5 Similarly, in UK, none of the Royal Colleges or any other University awards a qualification with this name.6 Same is the case in Australia and Canada.

Moreover, it creates a big challenge for our graduates of FCPS Operative Dentists (when applying for equivalent examinations in United Kingdom and Ireland) to convince the dental faculties at Royal Surgical Colleges in Edinburgh, London, Glasgow and Dublinin making them understand that who we are & what we are trained at. Even College of Physicians & Surgeons of Pakistan can verify this by making an attempt to get equivalency of this qualification from UK or USA. This act will surely uncover the situation. Similarly, when an FCPS Operative Dentist applies for a job in UAE or Kingdom of SaudiArabia, the poor fellow encounters a problem of fitting in a specialty as they too don’t have a specialty with this name.

A very simple distribution of the specialty’s content with respect to training requirements and fellowship examination in Pakistan is following:
1- Root canal treatment or Endodontics : 70%
2- Fixed Restorations, implants, crown & bridge work: 20%
3- Minor Operative dental procedures for fillings: 10%

The true Operative Dentistry just accounts for 10% of our service while Endodontics & restorative procedures comprise of 90% of our profession. Thus, the currently used term “Operative Dentistry” severely under represents us.

This problem of improper name of Specialty is unique to the Operative Dentistry. Other dental specialties at CPSP do not have this issue. They are satisfied with their names as they have their counterpart / parallel programs & qualifications exist in USA, UK, Canada & Australia. Ideally this problem could have been avoided at the time of initiating the FCPS programs in dental specialties (year 1995-96); a small problem in naming the specialty then, has resulted in a problem for the program graduates in last 15 years. However, it’s never too late; a correction today will streamline the matter for future.

It’s a high time for all Operative Dentistry trainees,fellows, supervisors and examiners to come together and file an application at CPSP for switching the name of the specialty from “Operative Dentistry” to “Endodontics & Operative Dentistry”. With this change in the name, both the future of the specialty and the interest of the specialists can be safe guarded.


1- Roberson TM, Heymann HO, Swift EJ, Clifford M, Sturdevant CM. Sturdevant’s art and science of operative dentistry.St. Louis, Mo.: Mosby;2006.
2- Lund MR. Operative dentistry: the vanishing discipline. Oper Dent. 2001;26 (6):529-30.
3- Mjör IA, Wilson NHF. What are you operative dentistry? Oper Dent. 1996;21(1):1-3.
4- Mjör IA. Dentin and pulp: Endodontics or operative dentistry.J DentRes. 1995;74(9):1535.