Indian Journal of Dental Research

: 2010  |  Volume : 21  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 463-

Why tooth carving?

Irulandy Ponniah 
 Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology, Tamil Nadu Government Dental College and Hospital, Chennai - 600 003, India

Correspondence Address:
Irulandy Ponniah
Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology, Tamil Nadu Government Dental College and Hospital, Chennai - 600 003

How to cite this article:
Ponniah I. Why tooth carving?.Indian J Dent Res 2010;21:463-463

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Ponniah I. Why tooth carving?. Indian J Dent Res [serial online] 2010 [cited 2021 Apr 19 ];21:463-463
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Many experts, after considerable years of experience, are of the view that the study of tooth morphology is an age-old exercise that serves no purpose in the present day context. [1],[2],[3] Because teaching tooth morphology requires expertise and dexterity, it is tiresome to teach in the first place.

As an alternative, subjects like bioinformatics, molecular biology and comparative anatomy can be taught for dental students [1] in order to make them better versed in everything other than dentistry.

A number of reasons could be cited against learning tooth morphology. Firstly, learning tooth morphology can only equip a student to become a good technician rather than a clinician. [2] Secondly, because most of the restorative works are performed by dental technicians, and as surgeons or anatomists are never required to carve the maxilla or mandible to learn the anatomy to perform corrective surgery, dental students can become skilled surgeons (Bachelor of Dental Surgery) even without learning tooth morphology. [1] The suppositions are indeed a valuable argument against the inclusion of tooth morphology for dental students (under and post graduate students). Why? Dental technicians can take advantage of precarved tooth materials and are even blessed with learning without schooling (some of the busy technicians were never enrolled in dental schools or colleges in India). Furthermore, dental technicians need no further knowledge regarding tooth morphology other than identifying the exact tooth to be replaced. In view of these, it is not essential for dental students or practitioners to learn tooth morphology at the curricular level and that too by expending enormous time and effort. Even when one learns all the tricks in tooth morphology, there is no guarantee that they could pass their examination successfully.

Similarly, teaching undergraduate students to learn all those uncommon pathological lesions, which even our best experts would not have come across in their busy specialty practice, could equally make students taste failure at the examinations. Fortunately, failure is nonexistent in most dental colleges and "deemed universities" because the students are well trained with the aid of photographs and dummy models or internet learning, which would enable them to complete their course successfully. But, unfortunately, they will have to test their skills when they open up their practice for their cosmopolitan patients. However, this should not be a problem for most dental surgeons as they can afford to purchase concerned specialist to perform the work or, sometimes, even to identify a particular tooth (at the cost of the patients). Therefore, a subject such as tooth carving (morphology) shall be discarded from the dental curriculum because one need not know the valleys and peaks as well as the anatomy and curvatures of roots in a particular tooth that may lead to waste of time and kilos of wax.

As a large proportion of our population lives below the poverty line and is illiterate and lives in rural areas, it is imperative that the dental curriculum should be designed to make the dental students develop necessary skills to become good practitioners later in their life. [2] How could we achieve this? We can do so by incorporating bioinformatics, molecular biology, etc. in the dental curriculum. [1] But again, how could these subjects help the students in their private practice? Nevertheless, this should help our students as we intend to train them to become good researchers later in their life rather than to practice the art of dentistry, although mechanically, which requires mastering tooth carving.


1Sivapathasundharam B. Tooth carving. Indian J Dent Res 2008;19:181.
2Baskar PK. Tooth carving. Indian J Dent Res 2009;20:130.
3Rao A. Tooth carving. Indian J Dent Res 2010;21:146.