How to become a Dentist

Dentist

Dentists diagnose and treat oral diseases, injuries and abnormalities of jaws, teeth and gums, undertake preventive procedures, conduct surgery and perform other specialist techniques.

Personal requirements for a Dentist

  • Good hand-eye coordination
  • Able to do precise and detailed work
  • Good communication skills
  • Able to concentrate for long periods
  • Sympathetic and caring

Education & Training for a Dentist

To become a dentist you usually have to complete a degree in dentistry, dental science or dental surgery at university. Alternatively, you can complete a degree in a related field followed by a postgraduate qualification in dentistry, dental surgery or dental medicine. To get into the degree courses you usually need to gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education. Prerequisite subjects, or assumed knowledge, in one or more of English, mathematics, biology, chemistry and physics are normally required. Entry is highly competitive, and you usually need to sit the University Clinical Aptitude Test for Australia and New Zealand (UCAT ANZ) and a structured interview. and attend a structured interview. You may also be required to complete a structured oral assessment. Entry to postgraduate courses usually requires completion of an appropriate bachelor degree and may require completion of the Graduate Australian Medical School Admissions Test (GAMSAT). Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information.


Additional information

Before undertaking clinical placements required by courses, students will need to obtain a National Police Certificate, a Provide First Aid Certificate and immunisations, and undergo a Working with Children Check. Students may also be required to be tested for blood-borne transmissible viruses (such as hepatitis B and HIV). Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information. It is a legal requirement for graduates to be registered with the Dental Board of Australia before being able to practise as a dentist in any state or territory in Australia. For full details, see the board's website.

Duties & Tasks of a Dentist

Dentists:

  • Examine patients' teeth and gums using dental equipment and X-rays
  • Diagnose dental conditions and plan oral health care in consultation with patients
  • Clean teeth and cavities, and provide preventive care such as scaling, cleaning and fluoride therapy
  • Repair decayed and broken teeth by rebuilding tooth structures and providing crowns and bridges
  • Treat diseases of the roots, gums and soft tissues of the mouth
  • Perform routine surgical procedures, such as extracting teeth, as well as complex operations on the jaws and soft tissues
  • Give local anaesthetics when necessary for carrying out treatment, and prescribe other medicines for infection or pain
  • Design and fit dentures, crowns and bridges for the replacement of lost or unsound teeth
  • Refer patients to dental specialists for further treatment.

Tasks

  • Provides oral surgical treatments such as biopsy of tissue and prescription of medications..
  • Leads a dental team which may comprise of Dental Hygienists, Dental Therapists, Dental Assistants and other Dental Specialists..
  • Performs routine orthodontic treatment..
  • Diagnoses dental diseases using a range of methods such as radiographs, salivary tests and medical histories..
  • Assists in diagnosing general diseases having oral manifestations such as diabetes..
  • Provides preventative oral health care such as periodontal treatments, fluoride applications and oral health promotion..
  • Provides restorative oral care, such as implants, complex crown and bridge restorations, orthodontics and repairs to damaged or decayed teeth..
  • Educates patients to take care of their mouth and teeth..

Employment Opportunities for a Dentist

Most dentists work in private practice. Some are also employed within state or territory governments. Opportunities for careers in teaching and research also exist, mainly within universities and dental training institutions. Demand for dental services depends upon demographic factors such as the size and age of the population, the general economic climate, the extent of private health cover and public awareness of new services available. Demand for dentists in the public sector depends upon government funding policies.


Specializations

Endodontist

An endodontist diagnoses and treats diseases and injuries to the soft tissues within the hollow core of the tooth.

Oral/Maxillofacial Surgeon

An oral/maxillofacial surgeon surgically treats diseases and abnormalities of the mouth and adjacent parts.

Orthodontist

An orthodontist diagnoses and treats badly aligned teeth and jaws.

Paediatric Dentist

A paediatric dentist deals with children's dental health.

Periodontist

A periodontist prevents and treats diseases of the gums and supporting tissues.

Prosthodontist

A prosthodontist restores and/or replaces teeth and their associated parts.

Public Health Dentist

A public health dentist works with the community, researching and facilitating community dental programmes.

Special Needs Dentist

A special needs dentist treats patients with conditions that require special techniques to manage dental problems.

Dentist

Dentists diagnose and treat oral diseases, injuries and abnormalities of jaws, teeth and gums, undertake preventive procedures, conduct surgery and perform other specialist techniques.

Endodontist

An endodontist diagnoses and treats diseases and injuries to the soft tissues within the hollow core of the tooth.

Paediatric Dentist

A paediatric dentist deals with children's dental health.

Periodontist

A periodontist prevents and treats diseases of the gums and supporting tissues.

Prosthodontist

A prosthodontist restores and/or replaces teeth and their associated parts.

Public Health Dentist

A public health dentist works with the community, researching and facilitating community dental programmes.

Special Needs Dentist

A special needs dentist treats patients with conditions that require special techniques to manage dental problems.

  • Average age
    Average age
    40 years
  • Future Growth
    Future Growth
    Very strong
  • Gender Share
    Gender Share
    44% female
  • Average full-time
    Average full-time
    42 hours
  • Weekly Pay
    Weekly Pay
    $1,742
  • Skill level rating
    Skill level rating
    Very high skill
  • Unemployment
    Unemployment
    Lower unemployment
  • Full-Time Share
    Full-Time Share
    63% Full-Time
  • Employment Size
    Employment Size
    11,900 workers
  • Employment Size
    Employment by state
    ACT: 1.9%
    NSW: 32.7%
    NT: 0.6%
    QLD: 20.9%
    SA: 7.2%
    TAS: 1.5%
    VIC: 24.4%
    WA: 10.8%
  • Employment Size
    Age brackets
    15-19: 0.1%
    20-24: 3.8%
    25-34: 30.9%
    35-44: 25.8%
    45-54: 18.5%
    55-59: 8.6%
    60-64: 6.3%
    65 and Over: 6%
  • Employment Size
    Education level
    Advanced Diploma/Diploma: 0.9%
    Bachelor degree: 79.4%
    Certificate III/IV: 0.5%
    Post Graduate/Graduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate: 17.6%
    Year 10 and below: 0.1%
    Year 11: 0%
    Year 12: 1.4%
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