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Dentists also encourage prevention of oral diseases through proper hygiene and regular, twice yearly, checkups for professional cleaning and evaluation.

Oral infections and inflammations may affect overall health and conditions in the oral cavity may be indicative of systemic diseases, such as osteoporosis, diabetes, celiac disease or cancer.

Remains from the early Harappan periods of the Indus Valley Civilization ( The term for the associated scientific study of teeth is odontology (from Ancient Greek ὀδούς (odoús, "tooth")) – the study of the structure, development, and abnormalities of the teeth.

Dentistry usually encompasses practices related to the oral cavity.

Examples include: Ancient Greek scholars Hippocrates and Aristotle wrote about dentistry, including the eruption pattern of teeth, treating decayed teeth and gum disease, extracting teeth with forceps, and using wires to stabilize loose teeth and fractured jaws.

In ancient Egypt, Hesi-Re is the first named "dentist" (greatest of the teeth).

Dentistry is often also understood to subsume the now largely defunct medical specialty of stomatology (the study of the mouth and its disorders and diseases) for which reason the two terms are used interchangeably in certain regions.

In most western countries, to become a qualified dentist one must usually complete at least four years of postgraduate study; within the European Union the education has to be at least five years.

Many studies have also shown that gum disease is associated with an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, and preterm birth.

The concept that oral health can affect systemic health and disease is referred to as "oral-systemic health".

According to the World Health Organization, oral diseases are major public health problems due to their high incidence and prevalence across the globe, with the disadvantaged affected more than other socio-economic groups.

The majority of dental treatments are carried out to prevent or treat the two most common oral diseases which are dental caries (tooth decay) and periodontal disease (gum disease or pyorrhea).