What can I expect as a foundation dentist?

As a society, we are not estranged from the competition. In fact, we live in an age of ceaseless competition which seems to be increasingly shifting toward progressive creation and the assimilation of knowledge. Through an ambitious quality, we are now able to create a more sustainable and highly localised process that works for all industries and businesses that partake in it.

Various institutions and educational posts act as surrogates of new and old collaborative knowledge and awareness of our ever-changing world and are driven to success with the goal of superior learning and career development. In today’s dog-eat-dog state of the market, more and more people are opting for career paths that represent both intellectual stimulation and growth independence.

Dentistry is one of those positions of study that is gaining rapid momentum as a leading choice of career development. In fact, for the seventh consecutive year, dentistry is among the top jobs in the ”100 Best Jobs” report. The level of education and clinical training that are required to earn a dental degree and qualify for the high academic standards of dental schools can be incredibly intimidating yet highly rewarding.


Once you complete four years of dental school, you’ll be trained to enter the profession of dentistry as a professional general dentist. Practising as a general dentist can mean using your oral diagnostic, surgical, prognostic, and rehabilitative skills to restore damaged oral structures. You may pursue any direction of expertise following your dental schooling. Furthermore, newly qualified dentists are able to apply for registration from the General Dental Council.

What can I expect as a foundation dentist?
What can I expect as a foundation dentist? 3

However, for dental graduates such as yourself to be able to practice in the NHS, you must complete a further year of training in a Dental Foundation Training Scheme (DFT). There are two schemes available, DFT for England, Wales, and Northern Ireland and Vocational Training for Scotland, however, you can apply to both schemes. This experience should include general dentistry in primary care as well as working in a junior hospital appointment, if possible.

Dental Foundation Training is a mandatory NHS training scheme for graduates with the purpose of enhancing clinical and administrative competence and promoting high standards through relevant postgraduate training. This competitive screening process allows young graduates to meet the needs of general dental practice in the NHS and to uphold the calibre of dental care provided.


Dental Foundation Training is carried out in specially appointed Training Practices. The schemes are meticulously managed by Training Programme Directors, employed by the Postgraduate Dental Dean.

Educational Supervisor (ES)

Experienced general dental practitioners with the ability to teach and help new dentists adapt to the field are appointed as Educational Supervisors (ESs). Each Foundation Dentist will be assigned a nominated Educational Supervisor who will be responsible for overseeing their educational progress while also discussing appraisals and 3 monthly progress reviews. Their primary role is to employ new dentists into the Training Practice and provide the Foundation Dentists (FDs) with a fully equipped surgery, a dental nurse, and patients.

They encourage the Foundation Dentist trainee to regularly complete the Dental Foundation Training Portfolio and use the educational tools provided for support. Educational Supervisors and Foundation Dentists are formed locally into one of nine schemes, each comprising of 12 to 14 FD’s and their respective ESs. The ES must provide help and guidance with weekly tutorial lasting one hour, during normal working hours.

Clinical Supervisor

The new Foundation Dentist will also be assigned a number of clinical supervisors throughout the period of their foundation training. They will be responsible for day-to-day clinical superintendence, facilitating and carrying out assessments, supporting the trainee, ensuring appropriate workload, liaising with Educational Supervisor and Scheme Advisor/Programme Director and providing progress reports.

During the Foundation Training Programme, you’ll undertake many different assessments, all of which will be recorded in your online ePortfolio. The ePortfolio is an educational tool that helps compile your achievements and overall assessment records throughout the year.


The new FD will be required to work in the practice for a maximum of 35 hours a week which will be fully salaried. They will also be expected to meet together with the Training Practice on a regular basis to take part in 30 educational study days. Outside term-time, FDs spend the entirety of their 35-hour week in practice or the community.

Dental Foundation Training should be undertaken for one year on a full-time basis. During this time, the FD attends 25 days of Day Release Course (DRC) at the Scheme centre. On days when the FD attends the DRC, they will work in the practice for only 28 hours. The curriculum describes methods to achieve competence, knowledge, skill, and behaviour appropriate for practice.

Since 2014, DFT commences on the 1st of September each year, lasting for a period of twelve months. During this time, four weeks holidays may be taken but not in term-time. Upon satisfactory completion of one year of Dental Foundation Training, Foundation Dentists will be awarded a Foundation Trining Certificate which allows for the full acceptance to the NHS Dental Performers List.

Under the NHS Performers List regulations passed in 2013, new graduates taking the DFT may treat NHS patients only if they’re working in an approved Training Practice. The local Area Team of NHS England issues Foundation Dentists with a Performers List Number for this purpose. View the updated curriculum on the COPDEND website.


In a combined statement from the Dental Schools Council (DSC), Health Education England (HEE), Health Education and Improvement Wales (HEIW), and the Northern Ireland Medical and Dental Training Agency (NIMDTA), the dental students were informed about the DFT application process for 2021 in April. For more information, click here.

The statement reassures final year dental students that processes are in place to support them to move into dental foundation training during the pandemic. The proposed process for this year will have two stages of the preferencing and allocations process DFT, namely:

  • Stage 1: All applicants will be asked for preference places. Those eligible for a place and who graduate in the summer will receive a place for a September start.
  • Stage 2: Remaining applicants who have been unable to graduate in the summer will be asked to preference again and if the eligible receives an offer for a training place starting in early 2022.

Further updates will be available once COPDEND announces the DFT recruitment dates, expected between June to July 2021.

Through the Foundation Training, dentists are expected to attain proficiency in dentistry by being able to hone their technical skills through hours of experience on the job during the foundation year.

If you an ambitious individual with excellent clinical, interpersonal skills, strong teamwork ability, an enthusiastic attitude, a genuine passion for continuous learning and development this could be the exciting career move you’ve been looking for.