Considering A Career In the Dental Profession? Here’s What You Need To Know

As with any career choice, a career in dentistry requires careful thought and consideration to understand whether or not it’s the right choice for you. To help you learn more about this field of healthcare and prepare for a career in it, we’ve covered some of the most crucial aspects you need to know.

Understanding the Role

Dentistry is a multifaceted profession encompassing much more than just treating teeth. As a dental professional, your role would involve diagnosing oral diseases, promoting oral health and disease prevention, creating treatment plans to maintain or restore the oral health of your patients, interpreting x-rays and diagnostic tests, ensuring the safe administration of anaesthetics, monitoring growth and development of the teeth and jaws, performing surgical procedures on the teeth, bone, and soft tissues of the oral cavity, and much more.

Education and Qualifications

To become a dentist in the UK, you will need to complete a General Dental Council (GDC) accredited degree in dentistry. This typically requires five years of full-time study and leads to a Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) or Bachelor of Dental Science (BDS). Entry into these programmes is highly competitive, requiring excellent grades in science subjects at A-level or equivalent qualifications. Additionally, you must pass the University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT) or the BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT).

Professional Training Options

After qualifying, many dentists choose to pursue advanced training in a specific area of dentistry, such as orthodontics, paediatric dentistry, endodontics, or oral and maxillofacial surgery. This pathway typically involves additional years of education and passing further examinations. It enables you to concentrate on the fields that most interest you and can lead to higher earning potential and professional recognition. For example, you could receive advanced dental training in some of these areas from the London Dental Institute. Investing in further dental education can help you acquire the qualifications and experience needed to advance your career in dentistry.

Work Environment and Hours

Dentists work in a variety of settings, from private practices to hospitals and community clinics. Your work environment will largely depend on your area of specialisation and whether you choose to work in the public or private sector. Typically, dentists work full-time, although part-time opportunities are also available. Working hours can include evenings and weekends, depending on the nature of the practice and patient needs.

Skills Required

Successful dentists possess a combination of skills and personal qualities. You must have excellent manual dexterity and good eye-hand coordination to perform precise and sometimes complex procedures. Strong communication skills are essential to explain treatments to patients and ensure they feel comfortable and informed. Additionally, you should have good problem-solving skills, the ability to make decisions quickly, and the capacity to manage a business if you own a practice.

Challenges and Rewards

Dentistry can be physically demanding, often requiring you to stand for long periods. The job can also be stressful, particularly when managing patients who are anxious about dental work. However, the profession offers numerous rewards, such as the satisfaction of improving patients’ oral health and appearance, a high degree of autonomy, and a good work-life balance, especially in private practice.

Getting Started

If you are interested in pursuing a career in dentistry, start by gaining experience that could bolster your university application. Consider shadowing a dentist, volunteering in health services, or working in a dental clinic. Such experiences not only enhance your CV but also give you invaluable insight into the day-to-day life of dental professionals.

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