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Modern health care requires caring, competent primary care providers who place patient welfare above all other considerations.

In dentistry, the General Dentist fulfills that role. The traditional term, “Attending Doctor” indicates such a doctor / patient relationship, and signifies the philosophy of the Department that the general dentist is responsible for leading diagnostic, treatment planning, and therapeutic endeavors for all patients under his or her care.

The nine dental specialties support general attending dentists by providing expert care for those patients whose diagnostic or treatment needs demand advanced levels of skill and expertise.

It is the responsibility of the general dentist to lead the referral team and constantly insure that the best interests of the patient are met.


The mission of Texas A&M University School of Dentistry is to improve the oral health of Texans and shape the future of dentistry by:

  • Developing exemplary clinicians, educators, and scientists.
  • Caring for the needs of the many communities in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and beyond Texas.
  • Serving as a leader in health professions education.
  • Seeking innovations in science, education, and health care delivery.

The mission of the General Dentistry Program is to bring the School Mission stated above to reality in a patient-centered competency-based program of comprehensive dental care. The objectives of this patient-oriented focus are to:

  • Prepare students to diagnose and provide comprehensive oral health services in a professional manner.
  • Provide students a clinical experience that resembles a broadly-based general dental practice, including personnel and patient management.
  • Demonstrate in word and action the commitment by the dental profession to provide competent care in a timely manner while respecting the patient’s values and interests.

Behavioral Objectives

The department’s vision is to consistently produce ethical graduates who are diagnostically, managerially, and therapeutically competent in keeping with Texas A&M University School of Dentistry’s competencies document.

By the end of the General Dentistry program the student should be able to:

  • Examine and evaluate patients’ general health status.
  • Diagnose conditions, identify and list patients’ dental needs.
  • Prescribe treatment plans, effectively communicate them, and perform patient care competently.
  • Recognize the need to refer patients to a specialist when the scope of required treatment is beyond the student practitioner’s competence.
  • Manage and delegate to appropriate others, duties such as patient scheduling and other patient services that do not require the skill and judgment of a dentist.
  • Demonstrate concern and understanding for patients.
  • Model the intellectual, ethical, and behavioral aspects of professionalism.

Comprehensive Care Philosophy

The School’s definition of comprehensive patient care is: “a system of clinical instruction and operation which allows the student to provide or be responsible for all aspects of a given patient’s treatment needs in a manner that closely resembles the way the student will provide care in private practice after graduation.”

The objectives of our comprehensive care programs are:

  • to provide comprehensive oral health services in a professional manner;
  • to provide a clinical experience that resembles a broadly-based general dental practice;
  • to provide competent care in a timely manner while respecting the patient’s values and interest.

The most important features of the Department’s programs are the patient-centered philosophy, the constant emphasis on professionalism, and achieving fundamental competencies in both clinical and behavioral endeavors.

The term “competency” then, is a threshold outcome of clinical training and experience that denotes the ability and willingness to practice dentistry consistently and independently at acceptable levels of performance. Such performance has the following characteristics:

  • it is a typical part of the general practice of dentistry;
  • it is a combination of knowledge and attitude, psychomotor skills, and/or communication skills;
  • it is performed in a clinical setting or clinical context, and;
  • it is consistently at or above the profession’s defined standards of care.