Have you ever wondered what the job of a dentist entails? Dental care is an essential part of overall health, yet many people don’t know exactly what a dentist does. In this post, we will take a closer look at the role of dentists in the UK dental industry and the benefits that they provide.
What Does a Dentist Do?
A dentist is a highly trained professional who is responsible for preventing and treating problems affecting the mouth and teeth.
Dentists deal with injuries and correct dental issues, and typically lead a team of dental nurses, hygienists, therapists, and technicians. T
hey treat a range of patients, from children to the elderly, and work in a variety of settings, such as high street practices, hospitals, and community clinics.
Types of Dentistry
Dentistry is a diverse field, and there are several specialities that dentists can choose to focus on. These include community dental care, dental public health, hospital dental care, and armed forces dentistry.
Community dental care involves working in patients’ homes, nursing homes, and community clinics, treating patients who have special requirements that mean they can’t attend a high street practice.
Dental public health, on the other hand, involves carrying out non-clinical work, assessing the dental health needs of populations rather than individuals.
Hospital dental care deals with cases of special difficulty and providing treatment to long-stay hospital patients, emergency treatment for short-stay patients or the general public for teaching purposes.
Armed forces dentistry provides a comprehensive range of dental services for armed forces personnel in the UK and abroad, operating as a military dental officer.
Community Dental Care
Community dental care is a speciality that involves working in patients’ homes, nursing homes, and community clinics, treating patients who have special requirements that mean they can’t attend a high street practice.
- Provides dental care to patients who are unable to visit a traditional dental practice
- Allows for flexible scheduling and location of appointments
- Provides an opportunity to make a positive impact on under served communities
- Can be physically demanding and require travel to patients’ homes
- May require special equipment and resources to provide care in non-traditional settings
- Can be challenging to provide the same level of care as a traditional dental practice
Dental Public Health
Dental public health is a non-clinical speciality that involves assessing the dental health needs of populations rather than individuals.
- Allows for a focus on preventative care and population-based interventions
- Provides an opportunity to make a positive impact on the overall health of communities
- Can involve working in government or non-profit organisations
- May not involve direct patient care
- Can be challenging to measure and track the impact of interventions
- Can involve a lot of administrative work
Hospital Dental Care
Hospital dental care is a speciality that involves dealing with cases of special difficulty and providing treatment to long-stay hospital patients, emergency treatment for short-stay patients or the general public for teaching purposes.
- Provides an opportunity to work with a wide range of patients and conditions
- Allows for the use of advanced technology and resources
- Can involve teaching and training opportunities
- Can involve irregular and long working hours
- May require on-call responsibilities
- Can be high-pressure and stressful
Armed Forces Dentistry
Armed forces dentistry is a speciality that provides a comprehensive range of dental services for armed forces personnel in the UK and abroad, operating as a military dental officer.
- Provides an opportunity to serve and support the military community
- Can involve unique and challenging work experiences
- Can involve opportunities for advancement and leadership roles
- Can involve deployments and extended periods away from home
- Can be physically and emotionally demanding
- May involve strict regulations and protocols
The responsibilities of a Dentist
The typical day-to-day responsibilities of a UK dentist may include:
- Examining patients’ teeth, gums, and mouth, using diagnostic tools such as x-rays
- Diagnosing dental conditions and developing treatment plans
- Educating patients on oral hygiene and care, including proper brushing and flossing techniques
- Carrying out a range of dental procedures, such as fillings, extractions, and root canals
- Creating and maintaining accurate patient records, including treatment plans and progress reports
- Communicating with other healthcare professionals, such as orthodontists, oral surgeons, and general practitioners, as needed
- Managing and training a team of dental nurses, hygienists, therapists, and technicians
- Maintaining and ordering supplies and equipment
- Continuously updating their knowledge and skills through continuing education and professional development opportunities.
Some practices employ practice managers so that dentists can concentrate on clinical work.
It’s worth noting that these responsibilities may vary depending on the specific type of dentistry they specialise in and their place of work.
What qualifications do you need to be a dentist?
In the UK, to become a dentist, you will need to complete the following qualifications:
- A degree in dentistry: This is a five-year undergraduate program that is recognised by the General Dental Council (GDC). The degree program includes both classroom instruction and supervised clinical experience.
- Foundation training: After completing a degree in dentistry, newly qualified dentists must complete one year of foundation training. This training is designed to provide dentists with the skills and knowledge they need to work safely and effectively in the NHS.
- GDC registration: Once you have completed your degree and foundation training, you will need to register with the GDC. This is the regulatory body that oversees the practice of dentistry in the UK and ensures that all dentists meet the necessary standards of education, training, and professional conduct.
- Continuing Professional Development (CPD): Dentists must complete a certain amount of CPD each year to maintain their registration with the GDC. This ensures that they keep their knowledge and skills up to date throughout their career.
It’s also worth noting that if you’re a dentist who qualified outside the European Union, you will also need to pass an assessment of your clinical and language skills, which is called the International Qualification Examination (IQE) before you can practice in the UK.
What subjects are needed to become a dentist?
To become a dentist, you will typically need to have strong grades in science and maths subjects, specifically in Biology, Chemistry and Physics. Some universities may also require or recommend the study of mathematics.
The specific subjects required to gain entry to a dentistry degree program may vary between universities, but in general, you will need to have a good background in the following areas:
- Biology: This includes the study of living organisms, including the structure, function, growth, evolution, and distribution of plants and animals.
- Chemistry: This includes the study of the composition, properties, and behaviour of matter, including the chemical reactions of substances and the properties of acids, bases, and salts.
- Physics: This includes the study of matter and energy, including mechanics, heat, light, sound, electricity, and magnetism.
- Mathematics: This includes the study of numbers, quantities, and shapes, including algebra, geometry, and calculus.
It’s also worth noting that some universities may also require or recommend additional subjects, such as English, and some may require the completion of an additional test such as the UKCAT or BMAT.
What are the top universities for studying dentistry in the UK?
According to the most recent Complete University Guide 2021, the top universities for studying Dentistry in the UK are:
- University of Bristol
- King’s College London
- University of Leeds
- University of Sheffield
- University of Glasgow
- University of Liverpool
- University of Manchester
- University of Birmingham
- Queen Mary University of London
- University of Dundee
These rankings are based on a variety of factors such as student satisfaction, research quality, and graduate prospects, and they may vary from year to year. It is also worth researching universities that are not listed in this ranking as they also may have good reputation in Dentistry and offer excellent education.
Is a Dentist also a Doctor?
In the UK, a dentist is not considered a medical doctor, but a healthcare professional in their own right. Dentists have a different training, education, and set of responsibilities than medical doctors.
Dentists are trained to diagnose, prevent, and treat problems that affect the teeth, gums, and mouth. They are responsible for performing a wide range of dental procedures, such as fillings, extractions, and root canals, and for educating patients on oral hygiene and care. They also work closely with other healthcare professionals, such as orthodontists and oral surgeons, to provide comprehensive care for patients.
Medical doctors, on the other hand, are trained to diagnose and treat a wide range of medical conditions and illnesses that can affect the body as a whole. They are responsible for performing a wide range of medical procedures and for prescribing medications to treat illnesses and injuries. They also work closely with other healthcare professionals, such as nurses and physical therapists, to provide comprehensive care for patients.
Both dentists and medical doctors are required to be registered with their respective regulatory bodies, the General Dental Council (GDC) and the General Medical Council (GMC) in order to practice in the UK.
How much do Dentists earn?
The salary of a dentist varies depending on the type of work they do.
As a newly qualified dentist, if you want to work in the NHS, you will have to complete one year of foundation training. During this time you will earn a salary of £33,720.
Most dentists are self-employed contractors in general practice, mixing NHS with private work. Profits of dental practices vary greatly, but in general, you can earn around £50,000 to £110,000. Wholly private dentists can earn £140,000+.
If you enter dental core training, instead of working in general practice, you will earn a salary of £39,467 to £50,017.
There are also additional payments for night, weekend and on-call work.
If you work as a salaried dentist employed by the NHS, mainly in community dental services, you will earn around £43,019 to £92,013.
In NHS trust hospitals, consultants in dental specialities earn a basic salary of £84,559 to £114,003 depending on the number of years spent in the consultant grade.
Other salaried posts exist in the armed forces and in corporate practices.
Who earns more, dentists or doctors?
In the UK, on average, doctors tend to earn more than dentists. The specific earning potential for dentists and doctors can vary based on a number of factors, such as speciality, location, and experience. However, in general, doctors tend to have a higher earning potential than dentists.
According to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics, the average salary for a dentist in the UK is around £75,000 per year, with some dentists earning as much as £110,000 or more. On the other hand, the average salary for a doctor in the UK is around £50,000 for a junior doctor and can reach up to £150,000 for a consultant.
This is just an average and earning potential can vary greatly depending on a number of factors such as the type of practice, whether it’s NHS or private, and location. Also, as with any profession, earning potential also increases with experience.
How much does it cost to become a dentist in the UK?
The cost of becoming a dentist in the UK can vary greatly depending on the specific program and the individual’s circumstances. However, here is an overview of some of the expenses that one may incur while becoming a dentist in the UK:
- Tuition fees: Dentistry degree programs in the UK typically cost between £9,000 and £38,000 per year, depending on the university and whether the student is classified as a UK/EU or an international student.
- Living expenses: These can vary depending on the location, but students should budget for accommodation, food, and other living expenses.
- Dental equipment and materials: Dentistry students will need to purchase their own equipment and materials, such as dental instruments, textbooks, and personal protective equipment (PPE).
- Exam fees: There may be costs associated with exams and assessments required for registration with the General Dental Council (GDC) and other professional bodies.
- Professional development: Dentists in the UK are required to complete continuing professional development (CPD) and pay an annual retention fee to the GDC.
- Postgraduate Training: After completing their undergraduate degree, newly qualified dentists must complete a one-year foundation training program. The cost of this program can vary, but typically ranges from £4,000 to £7,000.
The cost of becoming a dentist in the UK can be substantial, and students should carefully consider their financial situation and potential earning potential before committing to the program.
Many students opt to take out loans to cover the costs of tuition and living expenses, and some universities may also offer bursaries or scholarships to help offset the cost. It’s important to research the cost of the program and the available financial aid options before applying.
Once a student becomes a dentist, the earning potential is relatively high, which can help to repay any loans taken out during the education process.
What are the typical working hours of a Dentist?
If you work as a GDP, you will be self-employed and can arrange your own working hours, which may include weekend or evening sessions to suit patients.
Career breaks and part-time work opportunities are possible.
Work within hospitals tends to be on short-term contracts and involves more irregular hours, with on-call responsibilities.
Self-employment and freelance work in hospital dentistry are only possible for consultants.
Is a Dentist a good job?
Jobs are available throughout the country, in both urban and rural areas. When treating patients, you will be required to wear a tunic, surgical gloves, and safety glasses for protection and to reduce the risk of cross-infection. Eye strain and neck and back fatigue can be caused by the job. You may experience high stress levels when handling patients’ pain and anxiety or as a result of the pressure to keep up with the fast pace of the job.
However, the rewards of being a dentist are many. You will have the opportunity to make a real difference in people’s lives by helping them to maintain good oral health and improve their self-confidence by giving them a beautiful smile. You will also have the satisfaction of working with a team of dedicated professionals, and the opportunity to continuously learn and grow in your field.
A dentist plays a vital role in maintaining the oral health of individuals and communities. They are responsible for preventing and treating problems affecting the mouth and teeth, and for providing education and guidance on oral healthcare. Dentists can choose to specialise in a variety of areas, such as community dental care, dental public health, hospital dental care, and armed forces dentistry. The salary and working hours of a dentist vary depending on the type of work they do, but the rewards of being a dentist are many.