Career Route to Becoming a Dentist

July 2, 2013

Article by Global Pre-Meds
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In order to practice as a dentist in the UK, you will need to complete a minimum of 5 years study at dental school and obtain an approved degree in dentistry – BDS or BChD. Dentistry degree in hand, you will then have to undergo one or two years of supervised practice. Dentistry is a very popular medical profession and there is intense competition for places at dental schools. Most entrants will require 3 A’s at A-level, although one year “Pre-Dental” courses are offered by some dental schools which will broaden access to other students.


Dentistry work experience student Rhia learning practical skills whilst on her hospital placement in Thailand. Qualifications for Dentistry School

Entry to a dentistry course usually requires high grades at A-level in Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics or Physics. If you are sure that this is the profession for you, it is a good idea to start planning as early as possible – even as early as the GCSE stage. That way, you can plan your work experience around dentistry. When you choose your A levels make sure you choose Biology, Chemistry and a third A level, plus an AS level. Universities will always give preference to students who have taken more scientific subjects.

Dental Course Curriculum

Once you get admission, be prepared to spend a minimum of 5 years in a graduate course. Another alternative that you can choose to do is an accelerated 4-year course if you have a 2:1 grade or above in a degree with a large element of Biology or Chemistry.
There are also courses that include a pre-dental year for those students who did not take any science-based A-levels or equivalents but are still keen on pursuing dentistry.  This course normally lasts for 30 weeks and immediately precedes entry to the undergraduate degree course.
There are 16 dental schools in the UK that you can choose from, all of which are regulated by the General Dental Council (GDC). Three of these schools are graduate entry only and two of the schools are postgraduate only dental institutions
A dentistry course combines academic education with theoretical and practical training that covers all aspects of dental practice.
Although the number of places at dental schools has increased in recent years, competition is still fierce. In addition to having the usual academic requirements, some universities also require their students to complete the UK clinical aptitude test (UKCAT) or the Graduate Medical School Admissions Test (GAMSAT).

Complementary Dental Careers

Besides mainstream dentistry, there are several complementary dental careers for which you will need to do a specialised course:
Dental Hygienist: To register as a qualified dental hygienist, you will need a recognised Diploma in Dental Hygiene. Minimum requirements for candidates to a Dental Hygiene course are 5 GCSEs or equivalent (including Biology and English), plus a Dental Nursing certificate from a recognised institution, or 2 A-levels.
Dental Therapist: You will need to have completed a diploma course at a dental hospital to qualify as a dental therapist. The course is full time and spans a little more than 2 years. Minimum requirements for applicants to courses are a Dental Nursing certificate from a recognised institution or 2 A-levels.
Dental Technician: You do not require anything extra to become a dental technician. What you will need however is some experience as a trainee dental technician.
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Gap Medics provides year-round hospital work experience for people aged 16 and over. Our shadowing placements offer a unique insight into the work of doctors, nurses, midwives and dentists – helping students to focus their career aspirations before embarking upon medical training.