Dentistry was practiced in the Philippines as early as the Spanish times. However, dental work consisting mainly of extracting teeth was not recognized as a special course or profession then. There was neither a law nor any Royal Decree from Spain governing the practice of dentistry. Thus, there was no need for a regulatory body.
It was only during the American regime that the dental profession received its professional status as a field of practice when the Board of Dental Examiners was created by the Provost Marshall General on August 2, 1899.
On January 10, 1903, the Board was reorganized through Public Act No. 593, entitled “The Act of Regulating the Practice of Dentistry in the Philippine Islands.” The Board consisted of three reputable practitioners of dental surgery, including Drs. Robert Oliver, Wallace Skidmore, and Dr. Antonio Vergel de Dios, the only Filipino Member. They were all appointed by the Commissioner of Public Health with the consent and advice of the Board of Health of the Philippine Islands.
Twelve years after, on February 5, 1915 the Philippine Legislature passed Act No. 2462 which provided new regulations for the examination of dentists and the practice of dentistry. The new Board Members were appointed by the Director of Health with the approval of the Secretary of the Interior.
In 1916, Act No. 2462 was amended by Act No. 2602, changing the requirements for the qualification, appointment and removal of the Board of Dental Examiners together with the qualification of candidates for the admission to the dentist examination. In the ensuing years, Act No. 3680 was approved which established reciprocity while Act No. 3681 was passed to eliminate the age requirement for admission to licensure examinations.
With the enactment of Public Act No. 4007 or the “Reorganization Law of 1932,” the Board of Dental Examiners was placed under the Department of Public Instruction together with other medical-related boards. In 1948, Republic Act No. 546 was enacted, creating the first independent Dental Board of Examiners. Appointed by the Acting Secretary of Health were Dr. Gervasio Erana as Chairman with Drs. Germanico Carreon and Diosdado Carpio as Members. The law was later amended by Republic Act No. 4419, “The Philippine Dental Act of 1965,” which accorded the Board the authority to issue, suspend or revoke certificates of registration and the power to administer oaths and oversee dental education requirements.