The job of a dentist is to examine the health of the mouth, teeth and gums and diagnose and treat any problems found.
To practise dentistry in the UK, dentists must have a degree from a recognised dental school. Standard degree programmes last five years, with the competition for places on these courses being fierce. Requirements for entry onto a degree course vary, but applicants require at least three good A level passes in scientific subjects, such as chemistry and biology, in addition to experience of shadowing dental practice staff. Following receiving their degree, dentists planning to enter into employment in a general dental practice must complete a year of vocational training. Dentists working in the UK must be registered with the General Dental Council and must be committed to updating their skills to maintain their registration.
A dentist should be able to demonstrate a natural flair for science, good eyesight and manual dexterity, an ability to concentrate on detailed tasks for long periods, and a calm and sympathetic manner.
The majority of dentists are self-employed and work in dental clinics. However, many are employed in NHS dental hospitals and the Armed Forces. Permanent and temporary jobs for dentists are available directly from employers and through recruitment agencies. There is currently a shortage of trained dentists, particularly in rural areas.
Salaries for trainee dentists in dental clinics start at around £28,000 a year. Starting salaries for those working in dental hospitals are around £25,000 a year. Dentists working for out-of-hours emergency dental services earn higher hourly rates than those who work standard office hours.