So you’re thinking of becoming a dental practitioner?

What’s an average day like?

A local dentist in Southgate starts their day, just like one in Norwich, York or Aberdeen. Clicking on the lights in the clinic and operating the curtains. The practise of dentistry has become primarily one of education, in teaching good oral hygiene and to only intervene when necessary.

Procedures run the gambit from fillings, extractions and the fitting of prosthetics like dentures and bridges, preparation for treatment, x-rays and administering local anaesthesia.

They need to be observant and refer patients who have worrying symptoms as well as carrying out cosmetic procedures like teeth whitening, bonding veneers and dental implants.

What are the necessary qualifications

University attendance is mandatory and must be a course approved by the General Dental Council. This is almost always a five-year degree followed by two years of postgraduate training.

The approved courses are in high demand; there will be clinical aptitude tests and/or a biomedical admissions test. The skills they are assessing are critical thinking, working with data, communication across a team, problem-solving and a strong scientific grounding. As dentistry is a practical trade over a research profession, hand-eye coordination is a must.

There is usually an option for reducing the study length to 4 years if you already have a biology or chemistry degree.

Starting a degree to practice dentistry

The high demand for a degree has created high entry requirements; three A levels of AAA or ABB being the minimum with chemistry and biology being a requirement.

There are many sub-skills necessary to run a successful practice, which expands the requirements to be a successful dentist-

  • business skills
  • communication
  • customer service
  • team leadership
  • high level of literacy
  • to be able to work for many hours on your feet
  • working memory

three dentists

 Regulation

All dental professionals in the UK are regulated by The General Dental Council. All practitioners must legally be registered to work. The General Dental Council was created to ensure the quality of medicine provided in clinics across the UK is standardised, and to protect patient safety. As a department of the British government under the health secretary, they have the mandate to set the standards of both university courses and practitioners, investigating complaints on professionalism and fitness to practise.

It was the 1984 Dentists Act which provided the foundation for the General Dental Council. It expressly gives certain powers to the GDC.

  • The right to grant registration to dental practitioners who can show that they meet the standards of education and good character, giving them the exclusive right to practice dentistry within the UK.
  • By reasoned and scientific means to set the standards for providers of dental qualifications.
  • To establish guidelines on conduct, clinical procedures and medical ethics for the industry.
  • To carry out investigations into members fitness to practise, based on complaints and exclude those who are found failing.
  • To ensure the continued development of performance in the field as new techniques and technologies become available.

Just something to chew over or sink your teeth into in your career search!

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