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.
You will need to go to university to become a dentist.
You'll need to:
- complete a 5-year degree in dentistry approved by the General Dental Council (GDC)
- register with the General Dental Council
- complete up to 2 years of postgraduate dental training
You'll usually need 3 A levels, or equivalent, including biology and chemistry.
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.
You may be able to get NHS funding to pay for your course fees and help with your living expenses.
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. You could also specialise, for example in implant or paediatric dentistry.
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:
- Dental hygienist
- Dental nurse
- Dental technician
- Dental therapist
- 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
- 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
£32,796 to £86,900