What Kind of Dental Jobs Are Out There?
There are a variety of dental careers out there for anyone who has a passion for oral health. This field involves caring for patients’ gums, teeth, and overall mouth health. The first occupation that often comes to mind when thinking about jobs involving oral health is dentist, but there are so many other career paths to choose from. Each of these jobs provides fulfilling opportunities that help improve the health and lives of the patients.
There are plenty of roles out there that require little to no formal dental or medical education. However, there are also many options that require extensive education, licenses, and certifications. Understanding the roles, responsibilities, and requirements of these positions can help you find the perfect position.
The orthodontist is the one who specializes in assessing and treating overbites, underbites, general irregularities, as well as crooked teeth. An orthodontist will receive referrals from a dentist to carry out their work, as they are a dental specialist. Orthodontists have many responsibilities, some of the most common include:
- Assessing any irregularities in the patient’s dental health
- Examining jaw and teeth
- Altering tooth position
- Dental appliance fittings
Just like many of the other dental career paths, an orthodontist will require people skills and an understanding of good customer service. This path also requires several years of specialized schooling and training.
An orthodontist must first be a qualified dentist in the UK. This includes getting a Master of Science in Orthodontic Dentistry. If you’re at the beginning of your student career, you will need to have strong GSCE and A-level grades. To become an orthodontist, you will need to have a Bachelor of Dental Surgery and complete the Orthodontic Specialty Training. There are additional courses and programs you can choose, to become more specialized in your field.
A dental receptionist often handles all the clerical tasks in the office such as scheduling appointments, greeting and checking in the patients, answering phones, photocopying, faxing prescriptions to pharmacies, medical filing, and helping out in maintaining a good appearance in the office. The dental receptionist is usually the “face” of the office and will be the first person that the patient greets before meeting the dentist or dental nurse. Out of all the dental jobs out there, this requires the highest level of customer service skills.
The requirements for becoming a dental receptionist can vary depending on the vacancy itself. You may be able to get a position as a dental receptionist without formal education or a special diploma. Many practices prefer that the receptionist have a GCSE in Science, Math, or English. This includes having basic knowledge in IT, customer service, and general computer skills.
Dental hygienists take on responsibilities such as sterilizing the dental equipment and making X-rays. A dental hygienist also performs tasks such as polishing and scaling teeth, applying fissure sealants, and more. They will be examining the patient’s teeth for any signs of diseases or cancer. They also talk to the patient about their dental and gum health. They frequently offer tips for better oral hygiene and dietary advice that can improve dental health.
To become a dental hygienist, you’ll first need to register at the General Dental Council (GDC). But before that can be done you’ll have to have a three to a four-year degree in oral health science or something similar, such as dental hygiene.
A dental nurse is a person who helps out the dental practitioner. The nurse assists in the preparation for the dentist such as doing the X-rays, making moulds of the patient’s teeth, as well as cleaning up the equipment. They’re usually the ones that will give instructions to the patient at the end of the appointment on the proper dental care and tools that may be needed. However, more experienced dental nurses will have additional responsibilities that may include applying sealants and other small procedures.
You can usually begin working as a trainee without any specific academic qualifications. In order to progress in your career and become a full-time dental nurse, you’ll need to be approved by the General Dental Council. You’ll need to receive the right education such as taking full-time degree-level courses which may require taking English, math, or even science, and receive A-level grades, afterwards receiving a diploma.
Dental Laboratory Technicians manufacture dental prosthetics. This includes creating dentures, crowns, bridges, and much more. Much of the work involves fine-tuning each piece to meet the exact specifications needed. Technicians work with specialized equipment in a laboratory so they generally do not need to interact with patients. There are three different types of dental technicians:
- Prosthodontic technician – design and create dentures
- Orthodontic technician – make braces
- Conservation technician – specialize in creating crowns and bridges
Like all dental jobs in the UK, you must be registered with the GDC. You can take the BTEC National Diploma ( which often requests four GCSEs of 4-7 or an A-C). The other option is to get a Bachelor’s of Science at a dental college or university in a combination with a traineeship program that specializes in dental technical work.
A medical biller (also known as a medical coder) is in the position of calculating and collecting payment performed by the staff in the practice. This can include making invoices, submitting bills to insurance companies, collecting payments, and dealing with investigating claims. A medical biller is often found in private practice dentists, but these positions can sometimes be found in nhs dental clinics and orthodontist practices.
The education and work requirements for this position vary, depending on the practice you are looking at. In general, however, you will need a GCSE with high marks in math or English. You should also have a certificate that specializes in medical billing or coding to help ensure that you are properly qualified for the position.
The oral and maxillofacial surgeon is the person who performs surgical procedures on both the mouth and the jaw. This entails repairing or correcting jaw problems, as well as other structural abnormalities in the mouth or jaw. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons have dental specialities such as focusing solely on reconstructive surgery. These types of surgeons have the option of opening up their own practice, work in other dental practices, or even at a hospital.
To become an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, you will first need to become a dentist. This is going to include getting a Bachelor’s degree in Science, Biology, or Chemistry with high grades. Pre-dental courses are required, as well. After the Bachelor’s degree, there is the option of having a background in medicine or a background in dentistry. Both options will include going to a dental school or even getting a dual degree speciality.
A periodontist is in the position of diagnosing and treating bones and gums that are within the jaw. This may include:
- Setting implants in the area
- Helping the patient out in preventive care
- Treating gums through surgical and nonsurgical methods
- Developing a treatment plan for the patient
- Tissue reduction
You will need to have GDC registration along with high marks in a Bachelor’s degree study such as Science, Chemistry, or Biology. There is also a minimum of two years in a post-graduate program, which includes two years of training in areas such as hospital dentistry and general practice foundation. Most programs are roughly three years full-time and often entail 25% academic training, 15% research, and 60% clinical training.
A dentist diagnoses and treats the gums, teeth, and other areas of the mouth. The main duties that a dentist will usually have will include:
- Diagnose problems related to the mouth
- Create a treatment plan for the patient
- Remove teeth
- Place impacts
- Fill cavities
- Analyze X-rays
- Stopping and preventing diseases
- Regular patient examination
Dentists will usually offer more advanced treatments as well, such as fitting for dentures, root canals, and even bridgework. Are there three types of dentists:
- Community Dental Care
- General Dental practitioners
- Hospital Dentists
If you aspire to become a dentist, you’ll need to have a bachelor’s degree in Dental Surgery that has been approved by the GDC. The undergraduate requirement for this often requires grades ranging from AAA to ABB. This could also entail having high marks in general science, but also biology and chemistry as well. Each university has its own set of requirements such as passing the Biomedical Admissions Test or the UK Clinical Aptitude Test. It takes roughly around six years to become a fully qualified dentist.
Dental researchers have generally completed their PhD when beginning this position. One of the things dental researchers look at is the chemical composition of dental products to see how safe the product is for human teeth. This position includes doing trail runs on sample teeth and trying out different techniques and products. A dental researcher could work for a dental practice, a university, or even a company testing out new dental products or equipment.
A dental researcher needs to have a Bachelor’s degree in Biology, Chemistry, or even Dental Surgery that has been approved by the GDC. The undergraduate requirement will require high marks as you will need to get a higher degree. A PhD is required for most research positions, and each university or company varies on the requirements.
A special care dentist is a dentist who specializes in working with patients who have a disability or have certain activity restrictions. Most dentists will offer care for people with disabilities but prefer for the patient’s caretakers to seek out a special care dentist.
A special care dentist will receive the same training and will have the same requirements that a dentist needs. This includes a bachelor’s degree in Dental surgery that is approved by the GDC. The dentist must have high marks in their undergraduate program or else they risk not getting accepted into a graduate program. Those who wish to go into Special Care Dentistry will receive specialized training to help in their career.
A dental practice manager oversees the business side of the practice within the clinic. They ensure all patients are satisfied with the work they receive and make sure all patients are receiving the highest standard of care. Dental practice manager jobs require a lot of responsibility and include several duties such as
- Financial Management
- Strategic Planning
- Human Resources
There isn’t an exact route or educational program to become a Dental Practice Manager within the UK. One of the requirements will include having a background in business management and a strong background in dentistry. Since there is a myriad of different roles a manager will play, each practice may vary in requirements including skills, work experience, and education.
No matter which career path you’re interested in, there are a variety of dental jobs available across the UK. Find the perfect position and get started in a career you love!