Dentistry can be studied at degree level through a variety of courses and specialisations; however, the most popular degree is a Bachelor of Dental Surgery. This dentistry course is an undergraduate degree which takes five years of full time study to complete. If students wish to study alternative dentistry courses they are offered options such as dental hygiene and therapy which take just three years of full time study to complete.
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The BDS degree covers a wide range of topics and is split into five stages to ensure the student has the knowledge as well as the practical experience needed to pass the degree program. During the early stages of the degree program students are introduced to dentistry through a series of lectures and seminars, exploring the basics of anatomy, physiology, biochemistry and microbiology. In the latter stages of the program students are introduced to more complex areas of dentistry such as restorative dentistry, extractions, sedation and oral surgery.
In the UK currently less than 20 intuitions offer dentistry courses, with the top 5 being Cardiff University, Queen's University Belfast, University of Glasgow, University of Plymouth and Queen Mary University. These universities accept students with A Level grades ranging from A*AA – AAA including Chemistry and Biology. These universities also have additional entry requirements such as entrance exams and entrance interviews. The most common entrance exams are the BMAT and the UKCAT, and you can find out more about these exams on our article: University Admissions Tests, A Complete Guide.
Depending on the university you are applying to the entry requirements will vary, so you are advised to contact the universities you wish to apply to for a further breakdown of entry requirements.
Almost all graduates that hold a degree in dentistry go on to pursue a career in the dental industry, which is achieved by initially undertaking a yearlong vocational training scheme. After the vocational training scheme has finished, graduates pursue roles in general NHS dental practices as well as in private dental practices. There is also the option to work in much more specialised fields of dentistry such as orthodontics, prosthodontics (implants and false teeth), periodontology (gum disease), oral pathology, and restorative dentistry.
A dentistry degree was noted as the most employable degree in 2016 based on the destination of leavers from higher education survey 2016, with 99% of graduates in work or higher education 6 months after completing their degree. You can read more about the most employable degrees with our article: Top 10 Most Employable Degrees.