To become a dentist you need to be hardworking, committed and passionate. There’s not an easy way to do it, you have to complete years of study and placements before becoming a fully qualified dentist. You’ll need a bachelors degree in dentistry, to register with the General Dental Council and usually undertake training working in an approved practice.
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Once you are qualified there are many options of where you can work and what you can specialise in. Although most dentists become general dental practitioners (GDPs), where you’ll work in a high street practice, you could decide to be a community dentist, where dental care is provided in community settings such as a patient’s home, nursing home or community clinics. Many dentists choose to work in hospital dental care, dealing with special cases, accidents, emergencies and patients with medical considerations that mean the treatment can’t be done at a regular practice. Hospital practice is highly specialised and treatment is usually more complex.
To be a dentist, you need a good background of scientific knowledge so that you are aware of human anatomy and oral diseases. You also need to have good eyesight, colour vision and be very good with your hands; you’ll be working with medical instruments in small spaces, which many patients often feel uncomfortable with.
You need to be able to give advice about how to keep a patients teeth and gums in healthy condition, it is important that you’re prepared to educate people in oral hygiene, and be able to deal with their problems, fears and needs. You’ll be dealing with people of all ages from a wide range of backgrounds and cultures, and you need to make them feel at ease and confident in your skills.
The ability to work well in a team is crucial to dentistry. As a dentist, you’ll have a team of dental nurses, therapists, hygienists and technicians, each with their own set of skills and knowledge. Every member of the team has an important role to play in maintaining the dental health of the public.
Dentists and members of the dental team are highly respected. You’ll be helping to improve the health of the nation’s teeth and gums. In Britain, there has been a huge reduction in the number of fillings and extractions needed recently, as the public are now much better educated regarding their oral hygiene. It is thanks to the dentists who are educating and treating their patients that we’re seeing such a change in the nation’s health.