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Helping you find a career in the Dental industry

Dentists perform a vital role in society by improving community health. There are around 21,000 dentists currently practising in the UK, but there is a shortage of NHS dentists, meaning they are in high demand. A dentist's office also employs people other than dentists, like administrators, dental nurses and dental hygienists.

Of course, you have a choice of whether you work in the public or private sector, providing care to the general public in a busy hospital or surgery or to fewer patients in a smaller or more specialist facility. If you work in healthcare for the Public Sector you’ll work for the National Health Service (NHS).

Within the dental field, you could choose to specialise and become an orthodontist or cosmetic dentist – or you could continue as a dental practitioner, working in community or private healthcare.

Other roles, such as dental nurse or dental hygienist, require a shorter amount of training than that of a dentist – usually one or two years.


Skills & interests required for a career in Dental
It’s essential that you have a caring and considerate nature to work in dentistry.

Obviously, you’ll also need the specific scientific skills and knowledge gained in your degree. As dentistry degrees in this area are vocational, the skills you learn will be all about teaching you how to diagnose, treat and care for patients with various oral ailments.

Excellent communication skills are vital too, as you will be dealing with nervous and potentially upset patients, who are often children.

As a medical professional you will be constantly updating your skills and knowledge as new medical developments take place. Working in this sector is about dedicating yourself to lifelong learning.

Outside your professional skills, there are a number of others that you’ll need across the board. These include:

  • Analytical skill

  • Personable nature

  • Common sense

  • Diplomacy

  • Critical appraisal

  • Decisiveness

  • Awareness of aesthetics
Graduate schemes & other typical career progression routes in Dental
Career progression in dentistry is clear: roles are defined and you’ll have to achieve certain things in order to move to the next level.

After a two-year Dental Foundation Training course (completed right after a dentistry degree), dentists are free to work in surgeries. Continued training (compulsory for dentists) will allow you to specialise and increase your skill set.

As you progress through your career, you will be required to take on this extra training (Continued Professional Development, or CPD) in order to specialise and ensure that your skills are up to date and, most importantly, safe for your patients.

In dentistry, CPD courses can be taken in order to give dentists further skills or a specialism. This will lead to more extensive work and an increase in the amount of services that you can offer. The General Medical Council also makes continuing training for all dentists compulsory.
Tips for getting into the field
Dentistry is a competitive industry, so even though you’re qualified it’s still important to know what specific things employers look for when you’re applying for roles.

Obviously, a strong scientific knowledge and a clear and defined logical approach are both essential – so make sure you make these things clear in your applications.

There are also a large number of general, non-industry-related things that you can do to put yourself in a good position to start applying for jobs. These include:

  • Tailoring your CV for each specific role, making sure you focus on previous experience and relevant skills

  • Applying for internships and/or work experience: this is a no-brainer: as well as ensuring that you’ve experienced the field before you start applying for jobs within it, it’ll show that you’re committed and allow you to start acquiring the practical skills you’ll need in your future job

  • See what’s required: start by looking for successful case studies, and note what backgrounds and skills these individuals have

  • Use your contacts: university professors, those you met on work experience, people you can approach through social media or LinkedIn – they’re all potentially the stepping stone to your next role, and they might very well be happy to help you
How much can graduates earn in Dental?
Dentists’ salaries are high once they have a few years’ experience. Whilst in your year of post-graduation dental training, you will earn around £31,000. According to PayScale, the average dentist’s wage in the UK is £50,040, with a £29,233 - £98,098 range, depending on the level of experience. If you work at night, through the weekend or any unsocial hours you will also receive overtime pay.
What qualifications do I need for a career in Dental?
You will need to register with the General Dental Council (GDC) and complete one year of dental foundation training in a dental surgery after you have graduated. This will include lectures and demonstrations in hospitals. When you’ve completed this year you’ll be able to get a job in a dental practice as an associate or an assistant.

Orthodontists and those who want to go into dental medicine will need to undergo further training in a hospital setting.

To help you move into a dental career more quickly, it’s essential that you get work experience. Luckily, this is likely to be covered by your dentistry degree – and as your mandatory year of training after graduation is spent in a surgery, your work experience needs are likely to be taken care of.
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