Dentistry is a specialised branch of medicine that deals with the mouth. Dentists play a vital role in healthcare, as bad oral health can have a serious impact on those affected.
Dentists have to provide a caring role, be empathetic to patients, develop extensive skills and conduct themselves in a professional manner. Fully qualified dentists are expected to take a multidisciplinary approach to healthcare. This includes appreciation of anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, surgery, psychology and many other factors. These skills are integrated so that dentists can identify conditions correctly, produce appropriate health plans and then implement them with education, medication or surgical intervention.
At university, you can train to become a dentist or, alternatively, practise as a dental hygienist or therapist. If you’re more interested in the science behind the subject then you can also study Dental Technology. The Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) course is for five years and, upon completion, you will be a qualified dentist.
What will I study?
Students will initally be introduced to the medical sciences that need to be appreciated before clinical skills are introduced. You will have a grounding in different areas of Biology, Bioscience and Biochemistry. You may then learn about the different dental technologies and how to create dental restorations and appliances to a high standard of precision.
If you are on a course which trains you to work with patients, then you will become involved in clinical practice. This means that you will learn on-site through placements and perform treatments on patients, whilst being supervised.
Dentistry students tend to work either in the NHS or as private practitioners in hospitals and the community. You can also specialise in a specific area of dentistry or continue in academia and take up medical research posts.