The American Influence on the Filipino Dentistry

Dentistry is a branch of medicine that specializes in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of various dental and gum-related problems, including diseases, disorders, and damages. Its origins can be traced back to the Indus civilization, making it an ancient profession. The history of dentistry in the Philippines also dates back to ancient medical practices. However, during the Spanish colonization, tooth pullers were referred to as “sacamuelas,” and they were often barber surgeons. This article aims to explore the influence of the USA on the progress of dentistry in the Philippines and the enhancements it brought.

Brief History Of American Colonialism In Philippines

The United States gained control of the Philippines during the US-Spanish war in 1898, which also resulted in the takeover of Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Guam. Although the Philippines initially resisted American colonialism, this led to a second war of liberation in 1899. Eventually, the US emerged victorious and returned to the Philippines in 1944 to drive out the Japanese forces, with the Japanese being defeated by 1945.

The American colonial period in the Philippines lasted for 48 years, starting with the Philippines being ceded to the US by Spain in 1898 and ending with the US recognizing Philippine as an independent country in 1946. By examining the historical timeline of the Philippines, we can see how the country’s dental practices evolved over time under different influences, including the Americans.

Influence Of American Culture In The Philippines

The Philippines has a lot in common with America, including shared religious diversity and the influence of American culture in terms of things like the use of English in schools and healthcare. Some of the ways this has happened are that American teachers helped establish schools and teach in English, with english words have ended up being incorporated into the Filipino language. There are also some clear examples of this in modern day life, such as the way dental care is administered in the Philippines.

Introduction Of Western Medicine In The Philippines

Different types of toothache 

Prior to the introduction of Western medicine, the Filipinos relied on traditional remedies to alleviate various types of toothaches. However, the Philippines was heavily influenced by American culture, particularly during the 17th and 18th centuries, as Western medicine played a significant role in the country’s healthcare system. This was largely due to the Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade, where medical supplies were mostly sourced from Mexico. Furthermore, there was a scarcity of certified medical professionals from Europe, with most of them concentrated in Manila’s Cuerpo Sanidad Militar.

Introduction Of Dental Education In Philippines  

Dentistry in the Philippines has a long and complex history. The University of Santo Tomas offered the first course in the field back in the colonial era, and it was later renamed to cirujano dentistas. However, formal education in dentistry began during the American occupation in 1903, when the Philippine Civil Commission passed the First Dental Law Act. The Americans introduced and established a more structured and formalized dental education system in the Philippines, based on the curriculum in the United States of America. This was a major milestone in the development of dentistry in the Philippines and set the stage for the growth of the field in the future.

Establishment Of Dental School

The arrival of Filipino dentists who had received education from American dental schools had a profound impact on the establishment of dental schools in the Philippines. The Society of Dental Education of the Philippines, an organization made up of Filipino dentists, played a crucial role in improving the dental profession and founding dental schools in the country. The first dental school, Colegio Dental del Liceo de Manila, was founded by Gregorio R. Mateo, Antonio Oliveros, Crispulo Layoc, and others. This was followed by the establishment of more dental schools, such as the University of the Philippines, National University, Centro Escolar University, and Manila College of Dentistry. Some of these schools also had American dental officers from the United States Army who taught dentistry.

Modern Techniques Of Dentistry That American Brought To Philippines

During the American colonial rule in the Philippines, American dentists brought over a range of dental techniques and tools. These included tooth-colored fillings, dental implants, orthodontic care like braces and clear aligners, and laser dentistry. With digital imaging, dentists were able to take more precise pictures of teeth and gums to figure out what was going on and plan treatments better. This helped to improve the quality of dental care for the people of the Philippines.

Creation of the Philippine Dental Association

The Philippine Dental Association (PDA) is a professional association that represents dentists in the Philippines. Its roots can be traced back to the establishment of the Sociedad Dental de Filipinas in 1908. After World War II, the organization merged with the National Dental Association, which was founded in 1924, to form the Philippine Dental Organization. The PDA was officially launched on September 7, 1945, and began publishing in the Journal of the Philippine Dental Association in January 1948. The association strives to promote the continuing education and professional development of dental professionals while also providing legal assistance. Its headquarters are located at the Philippine Dental Association Building on Ayala Ave in Makati.

Increase In The Number Of Dental Professionals

Dentistry in the Philippines has gone through many changes over the years, with the establishment of a course for cirujanos ministrantes (dentists who administer treatment) at the University of Santo Tomas in the early 1900s, marking a turning point. The American occupation of the Philippines later contributed to the growth of the dental profession by introducing standardized examinations and licensing procedures, leading to the establishment of state supervision in dental practice. Today, there are a significant number of dental professionals in the Philippines, indicative of the country’s growth and development.

Improvement In The Quality Of Dental services

The quality of dental services in the Philippines has improved since the American occupation in the early 20th century. This was due to the passage of the First Dental Law Act in 1903, which led to the establishment of formal dental education in the country and the teaching of dentistry by American dental officers. The American influence has played a significant role in the development of the dental profession in the Philippines, and this has led to the enhancement of the quality of dental services in the country.

Advancement Of Research And Technology In Dentistry

During the American colonization of the Philippines, American dentists helped to make many advancements in dental technology, which helped Filipino dentists learn about the latest techniques and technologies.

Dentists have made a lot of progress in the past by introducing X-rays. This has allowed dentists to see things more clearly and make more accurate treatment decisions in the Philippines, where it has helped to detect dental problems earlier and provide more effective treatment.

An important advancement in dental care was the use of local anesthetics, which made more complex and invasive dental procedures more comfortable for patients. This allowed for more research and technological advances in dentistry in the Philippines, which in turn benefited patients. The establishment of dental schools and training programs helped to increase the quality of dental care in the country.

Contribution To The Country’s Economy

During the American colonization of the Philippines, dental schools and training programs were established, which helped create a skilled dental workforce and more job opportunities. So, overall, the American influence on Philippine dentistry has had a positive impact on the country’s economy.

Additionally, improved dental services have also led to increased tourism in the Philippines. The country is known for its affordable and quality dental treatment which has attracted people from all over the world to seek treatment in the Philippines. This has created jobs in the dental industry and contributed to the country’s economy.

Overall, American influence on Philippine dentistry has had a positive impact on the country’s economy. Improved dental services have led to increased productivity, attracted dental tourism and created employment opportunities in the dental industry.


The American influence on Filipino dentistry has had a significant impact on the development of the field in the Philippines. The introduction of Western medicine and formal education in dentistry during the American colonial period paved the way for the establishment of dental schools and the creation of professional associations like the Philippine Dental Association.

American dentists also brought modern techniques and tools to the Philippines, leading to an improvement in the quality of dental care available. As a result, there has been an increase in the number of dental professionals in the Philippines, indicating a growing interest and demand for dental services.