Is there a need for a common framework of dental specialties in Europe?


Prof Kenneth A. Eaton
University College London
Eastman Dental Institute
256 Gray’s Inn Road
Tel: +44 1233 813585
Fax: +44 1233 813585


This paper aims to promote discussion about dental specialties and post-graduate dental education in the European Union (EU). Previously, dental educators have concentrated their efforts of seeking Pan–EU convergence in undergraduate dental education. However, the impact of the enlargement of the EU, the new European Commission (EC) Directive of professional training and the Bologna Process all impact on post-graduate (specialist) just as much as on undergraduate dental education. The provisions of the new EC directive mean that, unlike new medical specialties, new Pan–EU dental specialties cannot be created purely because they exist in two-fifths of EU Member States. At present, some EU Member States recognise eight or more dental specialties, whereas others recognise none. It is suggested that changing needs and demands of patients, which reflect a general improvement in oral health, increased wealth and an aging population will place increasing demands on dentistry to provide more complex care and treatment and that the current undergraduate curriculum cannot be expanded to provide suitable training to meet these needs and demands. There is thus a need to expand dental specialist training in all EU Member States, to agree common standards for specialist education and to officially recognise a wider range of Pan–EU dental specialties. The paper concludes that in order to achieve these goals, there is a need of a better collaboration between competent authorities, including governments, universities, dental associations and the various Pan–European Scientific Specialist Organizations.