How to become a Dentist


Dentists are professionals who examine and look after people’s mouths and teeth, as well as provide education for oral self-care. Their duties range from check ups, to cosmetic procedures, to minor surgery such as tooth extraction.

Most people who become a dentist will work in general practice; they will usually be the first point of call for someone who has issues with their teeth. They have an arsenal of treatments that they can provide; although they also refer patients to other trained professionals. 

Some of the services provided by general practice dentists are: 

  • Dental check-ups – checking registered patients every six months to a year to do basic cleaning and scan for any issues that require treatment.
  • Dental treatments – these can range from fillings to tooth extraction under local anesthetic. Anything requiring general anesthetic will usually have to be undertaken by a specialist. 
  • Cosmetic treatments – this includes whitening and can be done by a dentist or a dental hygienist. 
  • Diagnosing complex or ongoing problems and referring them to orthodontists and other oral and general health specialists. 

Dentists can also progress to work in hospital dentistry, industry dentistry, or university lecturing and research. 

All dentists need to have a degree in dentistry; the training on this course is so specialist that this is the only way into the career. Places on dental courses are high in demand, so it is important for candidates to show a keen interest in the subject when applying. Candidates for a dentistry degree course must have studied science at a higher level in secondary school. 

After a degree, dentists will typically need more education to register. Having a lot of work experience and extra education will help a great deal to find initial jobs. 

Someone who is becoming a dentist must demonstrate critical thinking, communication and hand-eye coordination, amongst other skills. This is normally verified with an official aptitude test. Dentists are often managers of their particular surgery, looking after a small team of nurses, hygienists and receptionists. Therefore, they will typically need to have managerial skills as well. 

Being a dentist is well-respected and well-paid, and for the right person it can be very satisfying and rewarding. However, due to the length of training and competitiveness of the job market, it is crucial that anyone starting this career knows for sure that they want to be doing it.

What degree is most commonly held by a Dentist?

  • Bachelor of Dental Surgery
  • Doctor of Dental Surgery
  • Doctor of Dental Medicine
  • Master of Dentistry
  • Bachelor of Dental Science
  • Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS)
  • Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS)

Career Transportability across Countries

Transportability: Medium
While dentists are used and needed all over the world, sometimes qualifications are not recognised by foreign bodies. However, it is possible to ensure that a dental school is specialised in supporting international students. Some countries accept international qualifications, however this can change quickly, so it is important for candidates to stay updated with these statuses.

What is the Salary of a Dentist?

Experience Average salary | year
Dentist 1-3 years $125,000 £68,411 $125,000
Dental Practitioner 4+ years $200,000 £87,566 $200,000

What skills are needed to become a Dentist?

  • Dentistry
  • Restorative Dentistry
  • Cosmetic Dentistry
  • Healthcare
  • Oral Surgery
  • Endodontics
  • Prosthodontics
  • Teeth Whitening
  • Veneers
  • Dentures
  • Treatment
  • Surgery
  • Periodontics
  • Aesthetics
  • Clinical Research
  • Pediatric Dentistry
  • Customer Service
  • Crowns
  • Dental Care
  • Invisalign
  • Orthodontics
  • Public Health
  • Root Canal
  • TMJ Dysfunction
  • Microsoft Office

Dentistry Courses

It is very important for trainees learning how to become a dentist to undertake relevant courses. For dental beginners, the discover dentistry course is perfect to get a grounding in the topic. For people who are moving up the career ladder, take a look at improving dental photography.
  • Discover Dentistry

    Discover the fascinating world of dentistry and explore the impact dentistry has on our lives

  • Improving Your Image: Dental Photography in Practice

    Learn how to achieve consistent and excellent results in all aspects of dental photography with this free online course

  • Tackling Antibiotic Resistance: What Should Dentists Do?

    Discover the danger posed by antibiotic resistance and how dental teams can meet the challenge to protect patients

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