Entry is competitive. You need to study for a degree in dentistry (SCQF Level 10) from an approved dental school, which usually takes 5 years. This gives you registration with the General Dental Council (GDC), which you need to practise as a dentist in the UK.
The Universities of Dundee and Glasgow offer the BDS in Dentistry.
For the University of Dundee, you need 5 Highers at AAAAB (first sitting) including Biology and Chemistry (Human Biology preferred), plus National 5 English, Maths, Biology and Chemistry at B. For the University of Glasgow, you need Advanced Higher Biology or Chemistry at B plus 5 Highers at AAAAB (at least AABB in fifth year) including Biology and Chemistry at A, and English and Maths or Physics. Glasgow will not consider applicants after fifth year.
Those who already have a degree in another subject can follow a 4-year Graduate Programme in dentistry at the University of Aberdeen.
It is recommended that you have some work experience shadowing a dentist before you apply.
If you do not have the necessary sciences, the University of Dundee runs a Predental year – entry requirements 5 Highers at AABBB (first sitting) including Chemistry and another science subject plus National 5 English.
Before applying to dental school you must sit the University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT). For entry in 2022 you must register and book a test before 22 September 2021 and sit the test before 29 September 2021. If you get an Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA) you can apply for a bursary to cover the cost of the test. Check the website for further details at www.ucat.ac.uk.
You will require a satisfactory criminal record check from Disclosure Scotland to show that you are suitable for this type of work. Contact Disclosure Scotland for details on the type you would need.
You must undergo screening for blood borne diseases such as Hepatitis B and C or HIV.
Most dentists in Scotland are self-employed, working in general practice, doing a mixture of NHS and private work. There are also jobs in community dentistry, particularly in schools and in the armed services.
What Does it Take?
You should be:
able to get on well with people from all backgrounds and of all ages
friendly and reassuring as patients may be anxious and in pain
confident to make decisions based on your specialist knowledge
able to work carefully and accurately with fine instruments
able to work alone and as part of a team
able to concentrate for long periods.
If you work in general practice you should have good business skills.
Once you have qualified and registered with the GDC, you must complete one year of Dental Vocational Training (DVT), under the supervision of an experienced dentist. This is essential if you wish to work in the National Health Service (NHS).
Within the NHS you would go on to do Dental Core Training (DCT), which is a flexible training programme of one to three years.
If you decide to specialise in a particular area of work, you may need to do further training.
Throughout your career you must keep your skills and knowledge up to date through Continuous Professional Development (CPD).
You might decide to become a specialist in one area of dentistry. This takes three to five years to complete.
You must continue to undertake CPD activities throughout your career to keep up with new developments.
You might work in a hospital, where complex treatment such as oral surgery is done.
In hospital you could move through a series of grades to become a consultant.
With experience you may move into teaching or research.
It can help to be able to move around the country.
You may be able to work abroad.
The University of Dundee offers a unique three day Dental Insight programme running every June. To be eligible for a place you must be an S5 secondary school pupil studying in Scotland, and be on track to achieve the minimum entrance requirements to study dentistry at the University of Dundee.
Dental students in Scotland can apply for the Dental Student Support Grant (DSSG). This provides £4,000 each year for those whose annual household income is less than £34,000 a year. They must commit to working in NHS Dentistry in Scotland after graduation. Full information is available on the www.mygov.scot website.