Dentist

Dental surgeon, dental practitioner

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Dentists diagnose and treat teeth and mouth problems, and work to prevent dental disease and promote oral health.

Salary range: £32,050 to £86,900

How to become a dentist

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course

University

You’ll need to complete a 5-year degree in dentistry approved by the General Dental Council, followed by 1 to 2 years of postgraduate dental training.

When you apply for a dentistry course, you could be asked to take the University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT) or BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT). They test the skills you’ll need on the course, like critical thinking, problem solving, data analysis, communication and scientific knowledge.

You may be able to apply for a 4-year dental degree course if you’ve already got at least an upper second class degree in biology, chemistry or a biomedical subject.

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

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 3 A levels, or equivalent, including biology and chemistry

More information

More information

Registration

Further information

You can find out more about becoming a dentist from the British Dental Association and Health Careers.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You’ll need:

  • knowledge of medicine and dentistry
  • customer service skills
  • physical skills like movement, coordination, dexterity and grace
  • thinking and reasoning skills
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • the ability to work well with your hands
  • the ability to read English
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

Restrictions and requirements

You’ll need to:

What you’ll do

Day-to-day tasks

Your services might include:

  • dental treatments like fillings, extractions and fitting dentures and bridges
  • teeth whitening
  • taking X-rays and giving local anaesthetics
  • referring patients to a dental hygienist or dental therapist

Working environment

You could work at a dental practice, at a health centre or in an NHS or private hospital.

You may need to wear a uniform and protective clothing.

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.

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