Dental students are introduced to real live patients at an early stage of their undergraduate course in order to fulfil the requirements for clinical training, with the result that they are expected to absorb a large quantity of information in a relatively short time. This is often compounded by clinical allocations to different specialities on different days, or even the same day. Given the obvious success of the Oxford handbooks of clinical medicine and clinical specialties, evidenced by their position in the white coat pockets of the nation’s medical students, the extension of the same format to dentistry seems logical. However, it is hoped that the usefulness of this idea will not cease on graduation, particularly with the introduction of Vocational Training. While providing a handy reference for the recently qualified graduate, it is envisaged that trainers will also welcome an aide memoire to help cope with the enthusiastic young trainee who may be more familiar with recent innovations and obscure facts. We also hope that there will be much of value for the hospital trainee struggling towards FDS. The Oxford Handbook of Clinical Dentistry contains those useful facts and practical tips that were stored in our white coat pockets as students and then postgraduates; initially on scraps of paper, but as the collection grew, transferred into notebooks to give a readily available reference source. The dental literature already contains a great number of erudite books which, for the most part deal exclusively, in some depth, with a particular branch or aspect of dentistry. The aim of this handbook is not to replace these specialist dental texts, but rather to complement them by distilling together theory and practical information into a more accessible format. In fact, reference is made to sources of further reading where necessary. Although the authors of this handbook are not the specialized authorities usually associated with dental textbooks, we are still near enough to the coal-face to provide, we hope, some useful practical tips based on sound theory. We were fortunate whilst compiling this handbook in being able to draw on the expertise of many colleagues; the contents, however, remain our sole responsibility.