Shadowing a DoctorApril 10, 2015
The pathway to obtaining a basic dentistry qualification in the UK is pretty well defined. To become a dentist, you need to first complete a degree in dentistry from a recognised university. Most dentistry programmes last five years or more and the curriculum includes subjects such as anatomy, biochemistry, pathology, psychology and several other science courses. All programmes also include a practical component that ensures that you can put the theoretical learning into practice.
The first think you need to do after obtaining your dentistry degree is to register with the General Dental Council. This is an organisation that monitors and regulates dental professionals in the UK.
After you’ve registered with the GDC you will have to work towards obtaining some practical experience. There are two ways to do this depending on your professional goals. If you are planning on working in private practice, you will have to spend a period of time working under supervision in an established dental practice. If you want to work in a hospital setting, you would have to get additional practical training in a hospital.
As with most other health care professions, throughout your career you would need to undergo continuing education to learn new treatments and techniques as they are developed and introduced to the field of dentistry. You can also specialise in areas such as cosmetic dentistry, which is a dental specialty that has always been in high demand.
What A Typical Work Day Looks Like
In a typical day, dentists do routine oral checkups and inspect patients’ mouth, gums and teeth for signs of oral problems. Some of the other equipment, treatments and procedures you can expect to use/administer as a dentist includes:
- Filling cavities;
- Treating or extracting decayed teeth;
- Administering anaesthetic;
- Using diagnostic equipment such as x-rays;
- Performing surgical procedures such as wisdom teeth removal;
- Performing root canals;
- Fitting patients with dentures and crowns to ensure that their teeth are functional and attractive;
Working As A Dentist In The UK
The majority of dentists are employed by the National Health Service (NHS) where they work as general practitioners.
While dentists who work in private practice typically attend to more routine treatments and procedures, hospital-based dentists tend to see a larger number of more complex dental conditions such as abnormalities in the face and jaw.
As a dentist, you would work as part of a dental team that includes dental hygienists who help patients with oral hygiene and preventative dental care and dental nurses who offer assistance during all types of invasive dental procedures.
Another option is to work in community dental care, where the focus is on dental education campaigns in schools and in the general public. You could even do home visits for those who are unable to attend a general practice.
Salary & Job Potential
The average annual salary of a dentist in the UK ranges from £76,000 to £84,000. The exact amount you can expect to earn will depend on the specialty you choose as well as your work setting. Cosmetic dentists enjoy some of the highest salaries in this field.
Given the shortage of dentists, there is a huge demand for dentists across all specialties and this is a trend that is expected to continue for the foreseeable future.
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.