Dentistry and medical dominance

Soc Sci Med. 1999 Feb;48(3):407-20. doi: 10.1016/s0277-9536(98)00316-5.


In this study, I explore the relationship between medicine and dentistry in Ontario between 1868 and 1918. Examination of the rise of dentistry and medical-dental relations reveals that medicine never came to dominate dentistry to the extent it did other health care occupations. The combination of four factors enabled dentistry to avoid outright medical dominance in Ontario. First, dentistry organized and professionalized at approximately the same time as did medicine in Ontario. Second, dentistry's jurisdiction remained somewhat separate from medicine's. Third, unlike other health care occupations, the dental profession never challenged medicine's claims to knowledge or expertise. Fourth, dental and medical leaders shared gender and class backgrounds, identities, and goals that discouraged conflict between them. The importance of these four factors and their implications for future research into inter-professional relations and medical dominance are discussed.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Dentistry / organization & administration*
  • History of Dentistry*
  • History, 19th Century*
  • History, 20th Century*
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations*
  • Licensure / history
  • Ontario