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Dentist: job description

Dentist: job description

Dentists are medical healthcare professionals who focus specifically on the oral and dental hygiene of their patients.
There are around 23,000 members of the British Dental Association.

What do dentists do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

As a dentist, you will typically be examining the dental and oral hygiene of patients, and either offering advice, or carrying out surgeries. Other tasks may include:

  • operating technical equipment such as X-ray machines
  • keeping accurate records of patients’ dental structure (which may need to be used to identify individuals)
  • keeping up-to-date with developments in dentistry
  • working with a medical nurse and a medical receptionist
  • continuing training and specialising

You may be required to work some overtime and weekend slots, but hours tend to be a lot more regular than those of medical doctors.

Typical employers of dentists

Dentists are typically employed by the NHS or by a private practice. Dentists working for the NHS earn a basic salary of between £38,500 and £82,000. NHS dental consultants earn a basic salary between £76,000 and £102,500 per year. Salaries for an associate dentist in a private practice can be anything between £30,000 and £200,000 depending on location.

Qualifications and training required

In order to work as a dentist you will need to have a degree in dentistry approved by the General Dental Council. This is typically a five year course with high entry requirements, usually including one or two sciences. There are a few accelerated four-year courses for graduates who already have a 2.1 in subjects like chemistry or biology. Before you start work you will also be required to take a clinical aptitude test (UKCAT).

Key skills for dentists

  • Communication
  • Patience
  • A thorough and methodical approach
  • Ability to work long hours, often under pressure
  • Good ethical grounding
  • Teamwork skills
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