Membership as of 31 December 2011:3427 .
Dentist; 965, Dental Hygienist; 68 (1925),
Dental Technician; 1 (75), Others*2; 3 (370), Company; 20
*1. The number in parenthesis indicates associate members. Dentists and companies can not be enrolled as an associate member. Only those who work at the member-dentist’s clinic can be enrolled as an associate member by notification of their employer.
*2. Includes dental assistants, students in dental colleges/ schools and dental hygienist training schools, and other medical or health professionals.
The primary task of people engaged in medical profession is to work for and on behalf of patients, who wish to live more healthily and in greater comfort. With advances in the medicine and other sciences and changes in relevant institutions and attitudes, the role of dentists has changed also; nonetheless, some still maintain the spirit of making a contribution to the society just as the pioneers in medicine and dentistry have always shown. Looking at the current trend in the dental practice in Japan, we may wonder if we can state with confidence that we are really contributing to the society.
As in other sciences, modern dentistry, too, has made great progress in both its knowledge and techniques. However, not a few dentists have forgotten their ideal, namely, elimination of oral diseases. Instead, they have devoted themselves to cosmetic restoration of unhealthy teeth. Today, some practitioners, mistakenly, even regard aesthetic prosthesis as dentistry’s primary purpose. Moreover, dental research is divided into small sub-categories that are remote from clinical practice, and dental education is not always inspired by the spirit of making a contribution to the society–that is establishment of healthier society. The Japanese government’s medical policy encourages dentists to spend more time on aftercare and gives them no incentive or motivation to exert themselves to prevent disease from occurring or recurring.
In fact, many dentists and dentistry researchers are aware of these issues. And with the achievement of economic stability, the increase in population aging and the decrease in the birth rate, people are increasingly interested in their health.
What should be done about this situation? Our first task is to inform people of the fact that dentistry can prevent the majority of dental diseases. But will dentists be ready to practice their profession after people are better informed?