How dentistry in the U.S. differs from India

girl in amritsar, India
Stock image: A girl outside the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India.


I have completed a bachelor of dental surgery (BDS) from India. This requires four years of classroom training and one year of externship. In addition to that, I practiced dentistry in a private setting for a year and that has helped me understand dentistry from both an academic as well as a professional point of view. After moving to the United States, I wanted to pursue the same path and learn how dentistry is being practiced here. I was lucky enough to get several volunteering and shadowing opportunities and learn about dental practices in the U.S. I gained invaluable experience and it strengthened my decision to pursue dentistry here. In the process, I also observed some of the differences in dental practices between the two countries.

Dental Insurance

In India, common procedures like cleaning, filing and root canal treatments are very inexpensive and hence most people do not carry any dental insurance and prefer to pay out of pocket for those. However in the U.S., dental insurance for these common procedures is more common.

Dental Awareness

People in India are much less aware about their oral health as compared to people in U.S.

In India, people are less aware about the importance of their oral hygiene and thus they hardly go to the dentist for routine checkups and cleanings. Most of the time, it is only when dental problems reach the extreme that they visit the dentist. While in the U.S., people are more aware of the importance of oral hygiene and they do routine checkups. This allows the dentist to identify and to contain any potential dental problem at an early stage.

Dental Hygienists and Dental Assistants

In the U.S., dental hygienists and dental assistants receive formal education and training for the work they do in dental offices. In India, most of preventive services are provided by the dentists themselves so there is no concept of dental hygienists. Also, dental assistants do not get any formal education but are usually trained by the dentists.

Use of Latest Technology

In the U.S., many dental offices use technologies like digital radiography, lasers, CAD/CAM, CT Scan, intra oral cameras, guided implant surgeries and more. While in India, you can still find practices using radiographic films for taking x-rays. Most practices outsource crown and bridge work to the labs. But it is starting to change gradually now.

Dental Practice & Procedures

In India, all required procedures are done at the same location either by a general dentist or consulting specialist. While in the U.S., a general dentist may refer patients to a specialist and the patients have to go visit them at their location. In the U.S., some dentists recommend extracting 3rd molars at earlier stages to prevent potential problems. While in India, dentists recommend to not extract until it causes any trouble.

In spite of all the differences, dentists in both the countries always treat their patients in the best way they can with a sense of responsibility and aiming for excellence.

~Radhika Maniar, predental

Radhika Maniar

Radhika is an international dentist from India. She is currently applying for an International Dentist Program. To stay connected with the profession, she is shadowing general and speciality dentists. She also enjoys giving back to society by volunteering for dental and other community causes.

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  1. PRIYANKA says:

    Hi Radhika…im planning to apply for IDP as well.Can you please throw some light on how and where to start.I just moved to USA and I’m on H4. Your guidance will be much appreciated.

    1. Radhika Maniar says:

      Hi Priyanka,

      I am glad that you have decided to continue pursuing dentistry in the United States and planning to apply for International Dentist Program. I would start by compiling the list of IDP that you are interested in applying for. That will give you a good idea of requirements for different universities. All of them at-least require NBDE Part 1 and TOEFL. So, you can start with preparing for these two exams. Some of them also require or give preference to NBDE Part 2. Moreover, along with preparing for these exams consider shadowing dentists in your local area to gain better insights for practicing dentistry in the US. It would be also good to connect with fellow applicants through ASDA, SDN or such forums.

      Also, I highly recommend this ASDA article (, which has very good information for International dentists and dental students to get licensed in the United States.

  2. Really interesting approach to this subject.

  3. Anushri says:

    Hi radhika! I Just completed my 12th grade in India and we are planning to move to United States permanently. I want to pursue dentistry! So what should I prefer ? Should I complete bachelors here and than go to U.S. Or should I pursue it there ! I am getting very confused over this thing.

    1. Deven says:

      Don’t do any courses in India if you are planning to stay in USA. It will be wastage of time.

  4. It is very interesting hearing the differences in both practice and technologies for dental surgeons in India. Thanks for the good article.

  5. hello radhika ! interesting article, thanks. I am M.D.S in oral and maxillofacial surgery with 5 years experience. Can i pursue M.S.D in US , in any branch other than oral surgery, as i know it is not open for indian students. what are the prerequisites for this course. thanks

  6. radhika,

    visit our practice and give suggestion if any. so we can improve our service.

  7. Hi Radhika,

    Enjoyed reading your post. Most of the points are true. Indian dentists also started using latest technologies now. Thanks.

  8. Anupama Manjunath says:

    HI Radhika
    very interesting article. thanks for sharing. Completely agree with your viewpoints and observation. only thing i would like to add here is on the Electronic Health Records(EHR). in India most commonly used way is a manual record maintenance where as in US we use EHR’s to maintain the same. EHR systems offer the potential to improve care quality and patient safety by enhancing both the quantity and quality of information available to providers for decision making which is like a one stop shop for all the patient related history.

  9. Nice post…

  10. Hi Radhika,
    Great information… you have given insight on very important points which are of concerned like dental/oral health awareness in India, and the other example of molar extraction…

    Keep posting..

    All the best for the future!!!

  11. Great, that is an awesome point and you shared so good points about dental. We should learn these points and thanks for sharing it.

  12. Thanks!!!

    For providing nice information related dentistry!!!

  13. Betty Diaz says:

    Great points you have mentioned.. I appreciate the author for putting great stuff on this blog.. Thank you for sharing the post with us…

    Dental Implants in Mumbai

  14. Hi Radhika ,
    Can somebody who is an MBA from india do dentistry from USA by writhing DAT or any other exam

  15. Thanks. Please reply soon

    1. Thanks for the comment. Each school has their own prerequisites. You would be applying as a predental and likely not able to enter an International Dentist Program. These programs are for international students who were already dentists in another country and are seeking licensure in the US. Please visit ASDA’s website, more information!

  16. good information for dental students going to us

  17. najeeb pm says:

    Hi.I’m a dental hygienist.I’m completed 2year diploma course.can i work in America?is there any other exams?please let me know.

  18. Good article thank you for sharing the great points you mentioned. More ass is the author’s feedback.

  19. Lokesh Singh says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this article with us, I want to tell nowadays in India also start thinking about their health including dental problem. In India we take care of child, adults and old age teeth, in the school, every month teacher does surprise health checkup include teeth also. Years In India, for teeth treatment, most people do these common procedures like removing, cleaning, filing and root canal, but apart from these treatments, we look at how to make healthy teeth. To know more about dental treatment visit us:

  20. I like your explanation on this topic. India is developing day by day and I am sure it will give the U.S a tough competition.

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  22. Our oral cavity is the major part of our face and also in our body, we express our thoughts and ideas through it. So it is very important to maintain our oral cavity in a better manner.

  23. Terrific post in addition to great assistance! This write-up is very very helpful and ideal for us. Thanks for expressing valuable facts.

  24. Also, In economy-wise, the dental charges hugely differ in India and US.

  25. Malek says:

    Very intersting article Radhika! thank you for sharing your experience. I got my diploma from Tunisia 2017 and I am now residing in the USA. As a foreign trained dentist preparing also my application for US dental schools. Please can you share your dental education experience in the US. thank you so much.

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