Job Description:

Dentists diagnose and treat teeth and mouth problems, and work to prevent dental disease and promote oral health.

Job Category:
Health Care & Social Assistance

What you will do:

Most dentists are self-employed and work as general dental practitioners (GDPs) providing dental care to the public. You’ll keep records for each patient. You’ll tell them how to care for their teeth and provide treatment for any problems that occur. Your services might include:

  • dental treatments like fillings, extractions and fitting dentures and bridges
    teeth whitening
  • taking X-rays and giving local anaesthetics
  • referring patients to a dental hygienist or dental therapist

If you’re running your own practice, you’ll be responsible for the day-to-day management of the business and dental team.

As well as general dental practice, you could also work in:

  • the community dental service (CDS) – providing treatment to people with special needs, young children and the elderly
  • hospitals – carrying out specialised dental work, such as restorative dentistry, orthodontics and oral surgery
  • dental public health – improving the dental health of your local area, rather than treating individuals
  • the armed forces – providing dental treatment for services personnel, including those in combat zones

You’ll use a range of dental and surgical techniques and instruments. In a hospital you’ll carry out some procedures in an operating theatre.

You’ll work with other dentists, medical professionals, government departments and related agencies.


You’ll need:

  • knowledge of medicine and dentistry
  • be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
  • the ability to read English

as well as:

  • excellent communication skills
  • the ability to carry out delicate work with medical instruments and work well with your hands
  • the ability to concentrate for long periods
  • leadership skills for managing the dental team
  • teamwork skills for working with others as part of a team
  • organisational, business and management skills for running a dental practice
  • customer service skills
  • physical skills like movement, coordination and dexterity
  • thinking and reasoning skills
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

You’ll need to:

  • complete a 5-year degree in dentistry approved by the Dental Council in the country where you practice.
  • register with the relevant authorities
  • complete up to 2 years of postgraduate dental training

If you’ve a degree in biology, chemistry or a biomedical subject (2:1 or higher), you may be able to apply for a 4-year dental degree course.

Just understand that there’s a lot of competition for places at dental schools.

In the UK, Australia & New Zealand, when you apply you’ll take the University Clinical Admissions Test (UCAT) or the Biomedical Admissions Test (BMAT) to test your reasoning and decision-making skills.

Working Hours and Environment:

In general practice you’ll usually work between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday. You’ll occasionally work in the evenings or at weekends, or on an out-of-hours rota.

In a hospital, you’ll usually work slightly longer and more irregular hours including night shifts.

You’ll usually need to wear a tunic, surgical gloves and safety glasses to reduce the risk of infection.


Career Path & Progression:

As a dentist in general practice you could go on to become a partner in the practice or set up your own practice.

If you’re working in the hospital dental service, you’ll be able to follow the same career structure and training pathway as a hospital doctor.

As a consultant, you’ll often find work opportunities in the private sector.

With experience, you could lead a team, or manage a unit or department.

You could also progress to teaching and training students, trainee dentists and other healthcare professionals.