Study Dentistry, why & how to study
With great graduate prospects and starting salaries, Dentistry is a very lucrative field to be in.
Dentistry is the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of disease and disfigurement in the mouth and oral area.
Serious dentistry requires numerous different roles working together at once. The dentist themselves, but also several reinforcements: dental assistants, nurses, hygienists, technicians and therapists.
The area of Dentistry covers a range of subjects. Undergraduate degrees could include:
- Dental Therapy and Hygiene BSc
- Dental Technology BSc
- Dental Surgery BDS
- Dentistry BDS
- Dental Surgery/Oral Science MChD
For Bachelor of Dental Surgery degrees (BDS/BChD/MChD), options include a preliminary or gateway year, which may be integrated. October application required.
Dental school applicants need to achieve high grades, normally between 144–168 UCAS points, although unis will also make contextual offers. Related areas such as dental hygiene or technology have lower requirements. Qualifications required by dental schools include:
- A Levels: A*AA–AAA
- BTECs: D*DD
- Scottish Highers: AAAAA–AAAAB (Advanced Highers: AAA–BBB)
- International Baccalaureate: 38–32
- Universities will usually ask that you have studied: biology and chemistry
Other good subjects to have studied include:
- Human biology, maths, physics or psychology, depending on the university
- General studies and critical thinking may not be accepted
Experience that would look good on your application:
- Work experience or shadowing related occupations – contact your local dental practice or dental hospital, and look for educational videos or MOOCs online
- Volunteering in a care setting, such as a hospice or care home, or with a charity providing support services
- Background research on your preferred role and topical issues – try looking at the websites of professional bodies or associations such as the British Dental Association (BDA) or the Dental Schools Council, or reading dental journals
Other requirements for this subject include:
- Pass in the practical element of science taken at A Level
- Admission tests for dentists (UCAT, BMAT, or GAMSAT for graduate entrants)
- Due to the nature of this work, you’ll need to complete Disclosure and Barring Services (DBS) checks (PVG scheme in Scotland)
Typical modules for courses in this subject include:
- Biochemistry, physiology, tissues and organs
- Biomedicine in relation to dentistry
- Craniofacial biology
- Digestive, renal and endocrine systems
- Neuromusculoskeletal system
- Professionalism and the foundations of dental practice
- Restoration and maintenance of adult oral health
If you study Dentistry, you'll need to know complex medical techniques and terminology, so be prepared for a lot of exams. Methods may include:
- Clinical skills assessments
- Exams (written, clinical scenario papers and practical)
- Online multiple-choice tests
Dentistry, like any other medical degree or profession, has the feel-good factor. You're changing lives for the better, learning how to keep people in good health.
- Scientific knowledge and clinical skills to practice dentistry or in a related role, and register with the General Dental Council
- Communication and interpersonal skills
- Organisation and time management
- Critical thinking
- Problem solving
- Decision making
- Team working
- Entrepreneurial thinking
- Ethical practice
- Courses must be approved by the General Dental Council for you to practice as a dentist, dental nurse, dental hygienist/therapist or dental technician
Dentistry graduates can expect a starting salary in the region of £38,000 – the highest of all subject areas.
Most dentists become self-employed contractors in general dental practice, paying the practice owner for the use of their premises. As an associate dentist, you could average an income of £60,000 once your overheads are taken into account. Dentists who practice within the NHS are salaried, with incomes from £43,000–£92,000 depending on seniority and managerial level.
Dental hygienists may be employed by a dental practice or may work within the NHS, where salaries range from £25,500–£39,000 (NHS Band 5 or Band 6).
As well as being a dentist or dental care professional, areas such as research and charity healthcare are also options – or you could take further training to specialise.
- Academic dentistry (teaching or research)
- Community dentist
- Cosmetic or restorative dentist
- Dental and maxillofacial radiologist
- Dental public health consultant
- Dento-legal adviser
- Health improvement practitioner
- Maxillofacial surgeon
- Oral and maxillofacial pathologist
If you have a first degree in a related area (e.g. biomedical sciences) and gained a 2:1 or above, you could be eligible for a graduate-entry course to qualify as a dentist. Some Dentistry courses are specifically for medical graduates. Areas of further specialisation at postgraduate level include:
- Dental Sedation and Pain Management PGCert
- Doctor of Dental Surgery DDS
- Endodontology DClinDent
- Dental Public Health MRes
Other subject areas that might appeal to you include:
- Biomedical Sciences
- Medical Technology & Bioengineering
- Optometry, Ophthalmics & Orthoptics
- Pharmacology & Pharmacy
Get in touch with our experts by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with your question about studying Dentistry. We’ll be happy to hear from you!