Edge browser users:
To download Word, Excel or PowerPoint files please right-click on the file you wish to download, and select 'Save link as...'

Becoming a dentist

Dentists can pursue careers in many different areas.
  • General practice
  • Hospital dentistry
  • Community dentistry
  • Armed forces dentistry
  • Corporate bodies
  • Industry dentistry
  • University teaching and research

Being a dentist demands diagnostic, clinical and social skills and allows you the unique opportunity to pursue several careers which offer an intellectual and practical challenge as well as a service to society and a respected place in the community. In order to be successful and enjoy this profession, it is essential that you possess good people skills and an interest in their welfare.


Some dentists will become teachers or lecturers in dental schools, others will be employed in hospitals or community clinics, but most will become general dental practitioners. Often they will be managing a team of people encompassing dental nurses, hygienists, receptionists and others. Good administrative and managerial abilities are required.


Dental degree

To qualify as a dentist you need to complete a dental course, which usually lasts five years and leads to a bachelor's degree (either BDS or BChD).


There are four year courses available at Aberdeen, Kings, Liverpool and UCLan dental schools for students with prior qualifications, for example a degree in Biomedical Sciences.


Dentistry is one of the most popular degrees in the UK and there is lots of competition for places. The Dental Schools Council offers some useful information about different courses and entry requirements.


General Dental Council

Upon qualification dentists must register with the General Dental Council, the profession's governing body. Dentists must follow ethical guidelines in their dealings with patients and failure to do so may call their continued registration into question.


Dental foundation training/vocational training

In order to do work in the NHS a dentist must undertake dental foundation training (DFT) or vocational training (VT). This is supervised training, working in an approved practice for one year after graduation.


After this, there are many different career options open to dentists; for example working in hospitals or community dentistry, however most dentists choose to work in an established practice as an associate. This is as a self-employed dentist, responsible for the treatment that they provide, but working in a practice owned by someone else.


Once qualified, dentists can continue to update and further their knowledge, through a wide range of short courses and postgraduate qualifications, sometimes on a part-time basis.


BDA support

If you are planning to become a dentist, you can join the BDA as soon as you have received your A' Level results and have confirmation of your place at dental school.


Find out more

To find out more about careers in dentistry, read the rest of our careers pages