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Health & Medical Sciences

How to become a dentist

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Thinking about dentistry as a career choice? Discover the vital role of dentists in the healthcare sector.

Dentists specialise in oral health. They diagnose and treat dental conditions, perform dental examinations, interpret X-rays and provide essential insights to develop effective treatment plans.

Dentists work alongside clinicians, dental hygienists, dental technicians and other healthcare workers to ensure a comprehensive approach to patient care. Dentistry is essential for preventing and resolving conditions like tooth decay, gum disease and oral infections.

If you're contemplating a career in dentistry, this article will guide you through the educational journey, registration requirements and hands-on experience required to excel in this fulfilling profession.

Explore the rewarding opportunities awaiting those passionate about improving oral health and enhancing smiles across Australia.

Roles and responsibilities of a dentist

Within dentistry, there are various disciplines in which dentists can specialise, including general dentistry, orthodontics, periodontics and oral surgery. Each pathway offers unique roles and opportunities to make a difference to patients' lives.

Dentists play a crucial role in the continuum of oral healthcare, from preventive measures like cleanings and check-ups to more complex procedures like root canals, dental implants and removal of wisdom teeth. Their expertise is fundamental in guiding treatment decisions and improving patients' oral health outcomes.

Dentists must stay up to date with the latest advancements in dental technology and treatment methods, ensuring they can provide the highest standard of care to their patients.

Strong communication skills are also important, since dentists must help patients understand their dental conditions, discuss treatment options and alleviate any concerns they may have. Building trust and rapport with patients is key to delivering a positive dental experience.

This list summarises the primary roles and responsibilities of a dentist:

  • performing examinations to assess the condition of teeth, gums and oral tissues
  • using advanced tools and technology to diagnose dental conditions accurately
  • conducting assessments for a variety of issues like cavities, gum disease and oral infections
  • clearly communicating diagnostic findings and treatment options to patients
  • providing recommendations based on diagnostic evaluations
  • performing procedures to restore, remove, repair, replace and realign teeth
  • administering and monitoring local anaesthetics while performing procedures
  • prescribing medications to reduce or prevent oral and dental infections
  • working closely with dental specialists, dental hygienists and dental assistants
  • maintaining detailed records of dental assessments, treatment plans and patient histories
  • educating patients on oral hygiene practices and preventive care measures

What is the salary for a dentist in Australia?

Dentistry offers rewarding career prospects, combining financial stability with the opportunity to make a positive impact on community health.

If you’re wondering “How much does a dentist make?” then the answer is “it depends”. Annual remuneration for dentists in Australia varies based on experience, qualifications, location and specialisation, but typically falls within the $175,000 to $195,000 range.

With approximately 12,000 dentists practising across Australia, the demand for skilled dental professionals remains strong. Job growth for dental practitioners is projected at 27.8 per cent over the next five years, indicating promising career prospects for those seeking dentist jobs.

Job opportunities for dentists can be found on popular Australian job search platforms like Indeed and SEEK, with positions available in various settings, including private practices and community health centres.

Dentists also have the option to specialise in areas such as orthodontics, periodontics, endodontics, oral surgery and paediatric dentistry, offering diverse opportunities for further career development.

How to become a dentist

Becoming a dentist requires dedication to a comprehensive process involving education, registration, practical experience and continuous professional development. Follow these steps to embark on a successful career in the field.

  1. Assess your skills and interests

    Evaluate your attention to detail, communication skills, analytical ability and interest in oral health care. These attributes are crucial for success in dentistry and can be further developed throughout your education and career.
  2. Undertake the necessary education

    A Bachelor of Science/Doctor of Dental Medicine double degree will enable you to first complete an undergraduate science degree (three years of full time study), followed by a Doctor of Dental Medicine (four years of full time study).

    To progress into the Doctor of Dental Medicine, you must complete the dentistry elective unit and gain an average score of 65 or higher during each year of your Bachelor of Science degree.

    To follow this pathway you must have achieved a satisfactory ATAR score and demonstrate suitable performance in a written assessment and panel discussion.

    Alternatively, you can apply for postgraduate entry into the Doctor of Dental Medicine after completing an eligible bachelor's degree with a minimum GPA score. You will also need to complete prerequisites like a satisfactory score in the Graduate Australian Medical School Admissions Test and the Multiple Mini Interview.

  3. Register as a dentist

    Before practising as a dentist, you are required to register with the Dental Board of Australia. This registration must be renewed annually, in addition to undertaking at least 60 hours of continuing professional development (CPD) activities over a three-year CPD cycle with at least 80 per cent spent on clinical or scientifically based CPD.

    CPD can include activities like completing cardiopulmonary resuscitation training, reading relevant academic literature or attending conferences related to the clinical, technical or scientific aspects of dental care.

  4. Search for employment openings and further develop your skills

    After obtaining your dental licence, you can begin to seek job openings in settings like dental clinics, hospitals, research institutions and private practices. You can further develop your abilities by attending additional dentist courses and keeping yourself up to date with the latest advancements and technologies.

Discover the fulfilling career of a dentist in Australia

As a dentist, you'll play a crucial role in addressing a fundamental healthcare need by diagnosing and treating a wide range of dental conditions, and by promoting early detection and effective management of oral diseases.

A career in dentistry presents exceptional opportunities for both professional advancement and personal fulfilment, while making a positive impact to the oral health of individuals and communities. Your focus on precise diagnoses and tailored treatment plans will enhance the overall wellbeing of your patients.

By pursuing the necessary education, gaining practical experience and actively seeking job opportunities, you can establish a rewarding career in the field of dentistry and contribute to positive healthcare outcomes in Australia.

If you're considering education in related disciplines, explore the courses offered by our university partners.