How to become a dentist

Becoming a dentist

Dentists are medical professionals who care specifically for oral health. Dentistry includes the treatment of teeth and gums, as well as certain problems of the head and neck. Day to day, a dentist could be doing anything from cleaning teeth to performing surgeries.

Should I become a dentist?

Becoming a dentist in the UK involves many years of academic study as well as practical training. Places in medical school are in high demand, so it is important to start preparing early for a career in dentistry. As well as studying the relevant A Levels, you will also need to show commitment and enthusiasm towards your future study.

Outside of academic achievements, future dentists will also have to have good leadership and communication skills, as well as an aptitude for business management. Dentists are typically self-employed and run their own practices, so these skills are essential for a successful career in the industry.

Steps to becoming a dentist

There are four main steps to become a dentist:

To get into medical school you will need at least three A Levels with high grades. Specific entry requirements vary by university, but good choices of A Levels for dentistry include Biology and Chemistry are usually considered required subjects. Grades will also vary by university, but to attend a high-ranking university, you should aim for three A grades at A Level.

For students who do not have the necessary science background for a dentistry degree, you can also study a Pre-Dental course which can help provide the foundation for a five-year Bachelors degree in the subject.

If you choose to study dentistry in the UK, most undergraduate degrees take five years to complete. There are a variety of degrees awarded to dentistry students , including:

  • Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS)
  • Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BChd)
  • Licence in Dental Surgery (LDS)

By studying any of these three degree types, you will benefit from academic lectures on your subject as well as the practical skills and work experience necessary for you to progress in your career as a dentist.

The GDC accredits the dentistry degrees offered in the UK. After completing your GDC-approved course, you can register as a qualified UK dentist with the General Dental Council.

After graduating from your Bachelors degree, you will begin a year of Dental Foundation Training. Newly qualified dentists will study under experienced general dental practitioners. You will work in the practice for up to 35 hours per week, for a period of 12 months.

How long does it take to become a dentist?

  • Dental degree – 5 years
  • Foundation training – 1 year

Dentist job profile

A dentist examining a patient

Discover what it means to become a dentist in the United Kingdom, including job duties as well as good skills to have which are not specific to dentistry.

Entry requirements to study dentistry

Entry requirements for dentistry degrees in the UK differ from university to university. All universities require good grades in the Sciences, as well as good communication skills and an enthusiasm for the subject.

You can apply for up to four dentistry courses through UCAS. The deadline for most medical courses is the 15th October.

Discover which universities we have links with to see benefits such as guaranteed interviews at medical schools.

Dental school requirements

To get into medical school, most dentistry degrees require:

  • AAA to AAB at A Level (or equivalent), including Chemistry and Biology
  • Passing the UKCAT or BMAT tests
  • A successful interview
  • An excellent personal statement
  • Evidence of genuine interest in the subject, such as work experience

What GCSEs and A Levels do I need to be a dentist?

To study dentistry in the UK, you need to achieve good grades in science-related subjects throughout your GCSES and A Levels (or equivalent) – as well as in any other subjects you study. Future dentists should choose to study Chemistry and Biology at A Level, but other possible subjects to consider include Mathematics and Physics.

GCSEs

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You can start preparing for your career as a dentist early by getting good grades in your GCSEs. You should aim to get As or Bs in English, Maths and Science.

A Levels

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Doing well in your A Levels is crucial to your career as a dentist. Aim to get between AAA to AAB in subjects including Chemistry and Biology.

Interview

Most dentistry courses at UK universities require an admissions interview. These interviews can be challenging, as places are competitive. Make sure you sufficiently prepare for your interviews – as there are other important factors to consider as well as your academic performance. You may also be asked about your personal interests and your reasons for becoming a dentist.

Admissions test

To study dentistry in the UK, you will have to complete an admissions test as part of the entry requirements. Depending on the university you choose, you will have to pass either the BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT) or the UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT). Find out which admissions exam is required for your course by checking the specific entry requirements for your university or The Medic Portal.

Other entry requirements

Alongside academic requirements, you will also need to show an aptitude for your chosen subject. Things that may help your application include volunteering opportunities within dentistry, as well as anything that shows your communication and team work skills. These can be evidenced by anything from extracurricular qualifications to school clubs and societies.

Career progression opportunities for dentists

A degree in dentistry can open up many unique employment opportunities. As well as varying specialities within the industry, you can find employment in a range of roles:

  • General practice dentist
  • Hospital dentistry
  • Armed forces dentistry
  • University teaching and research
  • Consulting