Following completion of dental school, newly qualified dentists are able to apply for registration from the General Dental Council. To practice in the NHS, dental graduates must complete a further one year of training in a Dental Foundation Training Scheme (DFT). There are only two schemes, DFT for England/Wales and Northern Ireland and Vocational Training for Scotland, however you can apply to both schemes.
To apply to Dental Foundation Training applicants must hold a BDS or equivalent by start of the training programme, have full GDC registration by date of appointment and provide evidence of the right to work in the UK without registration.
Links to the national training programmes are below:
- Dental Foundation Training (DFT) – Health Education England
- Dental Vocational (Foundation) Training – NHS Education for Scotland
Application to the DFT is highly competitive. After the DFT year, successful Foundation Dentists can begin work as an associate in a practice.
Dentists can then decide to follow a career in:
This involves working as a general dental practitioner (GDP), either in the NHS or private sector. Most dentists work as general dental practitioners usually in a high street practice, providing dental care to the general public. GDPs can also work part time in hospitals and some go into clinical teaching.
Hospital dentists work in an NHS dental hospital. Hospital dentistry usually involves specialist care that cannot be completed at a regular practice. It is highly specialised and covers oral and maxillofacial surgery, oral surgery, orthodontics, paediatric dentistry and restorative dentistry. This route allows for further learning and specialisation in a dental discipline.
This involves providing care in community settings such children’s clinics or an elderly care home. Community dentists often provide care for patients who may struggle to visit a high street dental practice and may also be involved in health promotion such as school visits.
Some dental schools also offer a range of postgraduate study opportunities such as Master’s degrees, specialty training, certificates and diplomas. To find out more about postgraduate learning opportunities, visit individual dental school websites.
A highly qualified dentist who works in both the clinical and research settings is called a clinical academic. They work in a university environment to develop teaching and undertake research into their area of dental interest while continuing to provide clinical care to patients. For more information, see the Clinical Academia section.