The dental literature for the past 30 years, with emphasis on recent publications, was reviewed for articles on trends in dental education. A keyword search of the MEDLINE database identified 6,055 papers, from which those most likely to predict future trends are considered in this article. Particular emphasis is placed on the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences 1995 study, "Dental Education at the Crossroads: Challenges and Change." Reactions to this U.S.-based study are also detailed. Trends in curriculum analysis, curriculum change and reform, curriculum length, dental school financing, dental student costs, dental school and university relationships, dental school patient care, dental research, accreditation, oral health and trends from outside North America are documented. In addition, a series of predictions are made, and a brief bibliography of the 51 most relevant references is included.