Dentists are healthcare professionals responsible for providing oral health guidance and instruction to patients and carrying out preventative and restorative care; they treat a variety of diseases affecting not only the teeth but the gums and the mouth as a whole.
The general duties of a dentist include carrying out examinations of the hard and soft tissues of the mouth and the head and neck area, diagnosing dental disease, taking radiographs, creating treatment plans, keeping clinical records, liaising with specialists and often taking part in the running of the practice as well.
General dental practitioners may work under the NHS, for privately owned corporate and small businesses, or they may have their own practice(s). Specialist positions are normally available in dental hospitals and some dentists also hold teaching posts at dental university hospitals.
Have you got what it takes?
Dentists normally work office hours, although an increasing number of practices are now open until late and some also at weekends, so the dentists of today often work longer hours than those in the past.
The ability to effectively work and communicate with people from all backgrounds is a must, as well as the ability to ease patients’ anxiety. Due to the intricate work dentists need to perform in the mouth, they are required to have excellent manual dexterity, good eye sight and colour vision in order to enable them to create an aesthetically pleasing smile.
Dentist Training and career prospects
The career prospects for dentists are excellent and there is wide scope for diversification in this rewarding but challenging field. In order to start working as a dentist, you will need to complete a Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS or BChD) degree, which normally takes 5 years, although candidates with certain degrees, such chemistry or biology, may be eligible to undertake an accelerated four-year dentistry course. Some providers also offer a 6 year programme for applicants with non-science backgrounds.
Entry requirements vary, however most universities require candidates to have at least five GCSEs including English, maths and science subjects, and/or AS or A levels.
Upon completion of the BDS degree, dentists can specialize in a number of fields ranging from implantology to orthodontics, from maxillo-facial surgery to cosmetic dentistry.