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Dentist: Salary and conditions

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Case studies

  • Dental Foundation Year 1 (DF1) graduates working as vocational dental practitioners (VDPs) start on around £30,000 a year.
  • Most dentists are self-employed contractors, mixing NHS with private work, and earn between £50,000 and £110,000 annually, while wholly private dentists can earn £140,000+.
  • Some dentists choose to work in salaried posts in the Community Dental Service (CDS), known in England as the Salaried Primary Dental Care Service (SPDCS). Salaries in the CDS/SPDCS range from £38,095 to £81,480. Other salaried posts exist in the armed forces and in corporate practices.
  • In NHS trust hospitals, dentists are paid according to nationally defined scales; for more details see Health Careers . Salaries at consultant level range from £75,249 to £101,451 a year.
  • Locums can expect to be paid £300 to £500+ a day.
  • Most general dental practitioners (GDPs) are self-employed and can arrange their own working hours, which may include weekend or evening sessions to suit patients. Career breaks and part-time work opportunities are available.
  • Hospital dentists tend to be employed on short-term contracts (6-12 months) and work more irregular hours, with on-call responsibilities. Self-employment and freelance work in hospital dentistry are only possible for consultants.
  • Jobs are available throughout the country, in both urban and rural areas.
  • The British Dental Association (BDA) predicts that more than half of practising dentists will be female by 2020.
  • When treating patients, dentists wear a tunic, surgical gloves and safety glasses for protection and to reduce the risk of cross-infection.
  • Dentists may experience eye strain and neck and back fatigue.
  • All dentists must abide by a professional code of ethics. They may experience high stress levels when handling patients' pain and anxiety and/or as a result of working within strict time schedules.
  • If you work in a hospital, long days and nights on duty may limit your social life, and short contracts of employment may mean repeated job search and relocation.
  • Travel within a working day and overnight absence from home are uncommon in general practice, but may occasionally be necessary for hospital dentists.
  • Opportunities for overseas travel may arise to attend international conferences.

Salary figures are intended as a guide only.

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Written by AGCAS editors
January 2014

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