Job type


£32k - £96k

Typical salary

35 – 40

Hours per week

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

More info

  • Help improve people's dental health and wellbeing
  • Many dentists work for themselves and need good business management skills
  • Long training period and high competition, but results in well-paid, in-demand skills

Most dentists are self-employed and work as general dental practitioners (GDPs) providing dental care to the public. You could do this work privately or for the NHS, or both.


  • Keep records for each patient
  • Tell patients how to care for their teeth and provide treatment for any problems that occur
  • Dental treatments like fillings, extractions and fitting dentures and bridges
  • Tooth whitening
  • Taking X-rays
  • 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


You'll work with other dentists, NHS professionals, government departments and related agencies. 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. 

You'll need

As a dentist you'll need excellent communication skills, good eyesight and colour-normal vision, the ability to carry out delicate work with medical instruments, the ability to concentrate for long periods, leadership skills for managing the dental team, and business and management skills for running a dental practice.

You'll need to complete a 5-year degree in dentistry approved by the General Dental Council, followed by 1 to 2 years of postgraduate dental training.

When you apply for a dentistry course, you could be asked to take the University Clinical Aptitude Test or BioMedical Admissions Test. They test the skills you'll need on the course, like critical thinking, problem solving, data analysis, communication and scientific knowledge.

You may be able to apply for a 4-year dental degree course if you've already got at least an upper second class degree in biology, chemistry or a biomedical subject.

You'll also need to pass enhanced background checks. Once qualified, you’ll need to register with the General Dental Council.


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. You could also specialise, for example in implant or paediatric dentistry. 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.