Development of dental specialties in Iran: A qualitative study


  • Tayebe Rojhanian Department of Community Oral Health, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.
  • Mohammad Pooyan Jadidfard
  • Shahram Yazdani Department of Medical Education, virtual School of Medical Education and Management Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences



Higher education, dental education, postgraduate, professional training, health care provider


Objectives: Dental specialties in Iran were first established in 1970s, and developed over time. Considering that information is essential for health policymaking, and lack of it is the main problem; therefore, policymakers require adequate knowledge about development and alterations of healthcare providers to recognize the influential factors on them. Regarding the information gap on development of dental specialties in Iran, this qualitative study aimed to assess it.

Methods: This qualitative case study was conducted through 12 semi-structured interviews with the experts and pioneers of the oral healthcare system in Iran who were selected by purposive and snowball sampling. Data were analyzed by content analysis method, which included transcribing, identifying the meaning units, abstracting the content, sorting codes, and formulating themes using Atlas.ti software.

Results: After data analysis, three main themes were extracted regarding development of dental specialties in Iran according to the interviewees: (A) trend of development, (B) challenges of development, and (C) necessities of development. Trend of development of dental specialties included two comprehensive phases, and one phase focusing on quantity and inadequate attention to quality. The challenges of development of dental specialties included management and policy-making problems, interactions outside the system, popularity of specialization, and process of admission to specialty programs. The necessity of need assessment, paying attention to the costs of healthcare interventions, defining the range of specialization, and revision of dental specialty programs are among the necessities of development of dental specialties.

Conclusion: Dental specialties in Iran were developed at a time with inadequate attention to shortage of infrastructure based on political interactions. The popularity of specialization in dentistry and the associated high costs in a free educational system highlight the significance of need assessment regarding the number of specialists required in academic and therapeutic fields, and setting some criteria for development of specialty programs.


Widström E, Eaton KA. Factors guiding the number of dental specialists in the European Union and Economic Area. Den Norske tannlegeforenings tidende. 2006;116:718-21.

Owall B, Welfare R, Garefis P, Hedzelek W, Hobkirk J, Isidor F, et al. Specialisation and specialist education in prosthetic dentistry in Europe. European Journal of Prosthodontics and Restorative Dentistry. 2006;14(3):105.

Chukwuma Sr C. Information-base and determinants of medical specialization and primary care: A view point. JBAH.

Sriram V, Hyder AA, Bennett S. The making of a new medical specialty: a policy analysis of the development of emergency medicine in India. International Journal of Health Policy and Management. 2018;7(11):993.

Pope C, Mays N, Ziebland S, le May A, Williams S, Coombs M, et al. Qualitative methods in health research. methods. 2000;1(2):10.1002.

The World Bank. Lower middle income [Available from:

Parkash H, Mathur VP, Duggal R, B. J. Dental workforce issues: a global concern. Journal of Dental Education. 2006(70):22-6.

Khoshnevisan M, Ghasemianpour M, Samadzadeh H, Baez R. Oral health status and healthcare system in IR Iran. Contemp Med Sci. 2018;4(3):107-18.

Hosseinpour R, Ebrahimi E, Mirmalek Sani M, B. S. A Review of functions and goals of dental sector in Iran's health systsm. Today's Dentistry. 2010;43:19-28.

World Health Organization. Working together for health: the World health report 2006: policy briefs: World Health Organization; 2006.

Baggott R. Understanding health policy: Policy press; 2015.

ATLAS.ti Scientific Software Development GmbH.

Lindgren B-M, Lundman B, Graneheim UH. Abstraction and interpretation during the qualitative content analysis process. International journal of nursing studies. 2020;108:103632.

Mohammadpour M, Bastani P, Brennan D, Ghanbarzadegan A, Bahmaei J. Oral health policymaking challenges in Iran: a qualitative approach. BMC Oral Health. 2020;20:1-12.

Isiekwe G, Umeizudike K, Abah A, Fadeju A. Nigerian dental students' perspectives about their clinical education. 2019.

Bailit HL. The fundamental financial problems of dental education and their impact on education, operations, scholarship, and patient care. Journal of Dental Education. 2008;72:14-7.

Jawaid SA. Plight of dentistry in Pakistan. Pakistan journal of medical sciences. 2020;36(3):299.

World Health Organization. The world health report 2000: health systems: improving performance: World Health Organization; 2000 [Available from:

Shadpour K. Health sector reform in Islamic Republic of Iran. Journal of Inflammatory Diseases. 2006;10(3):7-20.

Weinrauch J. Iran's Response to UN Resolution 598: The Role of Factionalism in the Negotiation Process. American-Arab Affairs. 1989(31):15.

Elangovan S, Allareddy V, Singh F, Taneja P, Karimbux N. Indian dental education in the new millennium: challenges and opportunities. Journal of dental education. 2010;74(9):1011-6.

Crisp N, Gawanas B, Sharp I. Training the health workforce: scaling up, saving lives. The Lancet. 2008;371(9613):689-91.

Poz MRD, Couto MHC, Franco TdAV. Innovation, development, and financing of institutions of Higher Education in health. Cadernos de Saúde Pública. 2016;32.

Australian Research Centre for Population Oral Health. Dental specialists in Australia. Australian Dental Journal. 2010;55(1):96-100.

Maia LS, Dal Poz MR. Characteristics and trends in the expansion of private dental schools in Brazil. International Dental Journal. 2020;70(6):435-43.

Grytten J, Skau I. Specialization and competition in dental health services. Health Economics. 2009;18(4):457-66.

Altbach PG, Reisberg L, Rumbley LE. Trends in global higher education: Tracking an academic revolution: Brill; 2019.

Segal L, Marsh C, Heyes R. The real cost of training health professionals in Australia: it costs as much to build a dietician workforce as a dental workforce. Journal of health services research and policy. 2017;22(2):91-8.

Eklund SA, Bailit HL. Estimating the number of dentists needed in 2040. Journal of Dental Education. 2017;81(8):eS146-eS52.

Knevel R, Gussy MG, Farmer J. Exploratory scoping of the literature on factors that influence oral health workforce planning and management in developing countries. International journal of dental hygiene. 2017;15(2):95-105.

Ghaneirad M. Knowledge elite: Partnership or migration. Tehran: Institute of Social and Cultural Studies (in Persian); 2017.




How to Cite

Rojhanian, T., Jadidfard, M. P., & Yazdani, S. (2022). Development of dental specialties in Iran: A qualitative study. Journal of Contemporary Medical Sciences, 8(5), 317–322.