Senior Member
1) Is there difference in usage? (practice /surgery)
2) What's the place called where the dentist works?
  • maxiogee

    The place where one or more dentists see clients is a surgery. The clients are clients of a dental practice.


    Senior Member
    English, US
    Hi nurdug,

    1) Surgery is the actual operation, or "cutting into" someone. A doctor's practice is their profession... what they normally do: that's why they're called a practitioner.

    2) The place where the dentist works is generally called just "the dentist's office." Though, depending on his job, he may have a more specialized name for where.

    Hope this helps,
    God bless,

    Kelly B

    Senior Member
    USA English
    The AE/BE usage of the word surgery is different; this might be obvious already from the replies above.


    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    This is more BE explanation.

    Surgery could be the collective name for operative procedures. In this context, surgery means the place where the dentist works.

    Practice is properly the name for the dentist's business. But you will also find that "the practice" also means the place where the dentist works.

    To further the distinction between AE and BE, the dentist's receptionist works in the dentist's office.

    stranger in your midst

    Senior Member
    English / Scotland
    For me the following definitions seem to describe the professional business pretty accurately (be it medicine, dentisty, law etc):

    • Firm: This is the organisation as a whole, consisting of partners and their employees; the firm might operate out of several different offices, or 'practices' in different locations.
    • Practice: This describes either the whole business in the abstract, or a single physical office location, e.g. a firm of veterinarians might have a practice in Edinburgh and one in Glasgow.
    • Surgery: This describes the facility whereby patients or clients may have access to the service, hence an 'open surgery' or a 'drop-in surgery' e.g. 'Please note this practice runs its surgery from 10 a.m. - 12 noon'. When the surgery shuts, the practice may remain open.


    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Hello stranger:D
    I've been looking forward to being able to say that for a while:p

    It sounds like your usage and mine almost coincide.

    Would you also use surgery for the place where the dentist works?
    Here, dentists and especially primary care doctors work in a "surgery".

    stranger in your midst

    Senior Member
    English / Scotland
    I think 'surgery' is used in colloquial BE to refer to the actual premises where a dentist/doctor/vet works, although all those professions also used the word to denote the period when they will see patients/customers.

    However, a lawyer, for example, would not call his place of work a 'surgery', albeit he might operate a 'surgery' from it, again referring to the period when he sees clients.

    Perhaps the different uses between the medical/dental professions on the one hand, and the other non-medical professions, on the other, arose because medics actually perform 'surgery', i.e. 'surgical procedures', whereas non-medics don't - they just stole the word for the sake of convenience.