Job Description

Dentists will diagnose and treat problems effecting the teeth and gums, they will extract and fill teeth, fit dentures and bridges, take x-rays and give local anaesthetic. They will also provide cosmetic treatments to improve the appearance of teeth and advise patients on effective cleaning techniques and mouth hygiene. Many dentists work in the community looking after private and NHS patients, some may work in hospitals carrying out reconstructive surgery for patients with facial injuries.

Entry Requirements

You'll need to:

  • complete a 5-year degree in dentistry approved by the General Dental Council (GDC)
  • register with the GDC
  • complete up to 2 years of postgraduate dental training

If you've a degree in biology, chemistry or a biomedical subject (2:1 or higher), you may be able to apply for a 4-year dental degree course.

There's a lot of competition for places at dental schools.  

When you apply you'll take the UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT) or the Biomedical Admissions Test (BMAT) to test your reasoning and decision-making skills.

You may be able to get NHS funding to pay for your course fees and help with your living expenses.

The British Dental Association (BDA) and the General Dental Council have information on dental training.

Health Careers has information on becoming a dentist.

Career Path and Progression

As a dentist in general practice you could go on to become a partner in the practice or set up your own practice.

If you’re working in the hospital dental service, you’ll be able to follow the same career structure and training pathway as a hospital doctor.

As a consultant, you'll often find work opportunities in the private sector.

With experience, you could lead a team, or manage a unit or department.

You could also progress to teaching and training students, trainee dentists and other healthcare professionals.

Related careers you may be interested in:

  • Anaesthetist
  • Dental hygienist
  • Dental nurse
  • Dental technician
  • Dental therapist

National Government Policy states that all students should have achieved at least a Grade 4 or C Grade in English & Maths at GCSE.  Achieving this minimum grade in these subjects will increase the opportunities open to you, support your future career development and prospects.

Students who do not meet this standard will be supported to continue to study English and Maths through full-time education or an Apprenticeship.

Required Skills

Good hand to eye co-ordination, good interpersonal skills to understand patient problems and put them at their ease, strong communication skills, a caring and empathetic nature, a strong academic background and an interest in science, the ability to carry out delicate work and concentrate for long periods of time, leadership skills for managing the dental team, a commitment to continue professional development.

Starting Salary

£36,000 to £102,500

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