In order to practise as a dentist, an approved degree in dentistry (BDS or BChD) is essential.
Entry to the course usually requires high grades at A-level/Highers in chemistry, biology and physics or mathematics.
The course combines academic education with theoretical and practical training in all aspects of dental practice. Courses including a pre-dental year exist for candidates without science-based A-levels or equivalents. This course normally lasts for 30 weeks and immediately precedes entry to the undergraduate degree course.
It is not possible to become a dentist with an HND only.
Graduate entry to dental school is possible. A 2:1 in a science-based first degree is usually preferred. Graduate entry courses usually last for five years, but accelerated four-year courses are available for candidates with a 2:1 or better in a degree with a large element of biology or chemistry.
Other graduate courses offer science foundation courses (a 'pre-dental' year) for suitable candidates with a non-science background. Some dental schools admit graduates in any subject as long as A-levels or Highers in sciences (including chemistry) have been passed with high grades.
There are 16 dental schools in the UK; three of which are graduate entry only and two postgraduate only dental institutions, all of which are regulated by the General Dental Council (GDC) . A list is available from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) and also from the British Dental Association (BDA) .
Whilst the number of places at dental schools has increased in recent years, competition is still fierce. Some universities require candidates to sit the UK clinical aptitude test (UKCAT) or the Graduate Medical School Admissions Test (GAMSAT) as well as having the usual academic requirements.
Pre-entry experience of dentistry is not absolutely essential, but a few weeks of related work experience and work shadowing are looked for as evidence of your motivation.
It is usually essential for candidates to demonstrate potential in the following skills and attributes, which will be assessed at admissions interviews:
It is also important that you have good eyesight.
Training is lengthy and expensive. Lack of financial support can be a problem if you have exhausted your funding entitlements at undergraduate level. Contact course providers for further information on funding and fees. Here are some funding options:
Advice on finance is available to student members of the BDA. It can be beneficial for dental students to become members of the BDA and over 70% do so. Alongside providing a student newsletter, blog and magazine and access to useful texts and networking events, members are eligible to access the legal support provided by the BDA. See British Dental Association (BDA) - student pages .
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