Career Scope and Salaries of Dentists in the UK

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International Dentists in the UK: Career Prospects and Salaries 

Dentists in the UK are in high demand nowadays. As per Clearwater International, the dentistry market is worth the same in the public and private sectors. NHS (public sector) is valued at 4.39 billion USD* whereas the private sector is worth 4.27 billion USD*. This shows that there is equal opportunity for dentists in the UK’s public and private sectors. Plus, there has been an increasing public demand for cosmetic dentistry, which has contributed a lot to the growth of dentistry in the UK. 

Before deciding on dentistry as a career in the UK, students should have some knowledge about the field and average salaries. This knowledge can help them make an informed decision if they wish to join specialized courses. So, let us discuss in-depth the career prospects and salaries of dentists in the UK.  

Dentistry Career Scope in UK- Quick Highlights

Before we get into the details, here are some quick highlights on career opportunities and salaries for dentists in the UK.

Entry-level degree  BDS degree
Popular specializations 
  • Public Health Dentist
  • Orthodontist
  • Endodontist 
  • Pediatric Dentist 
  • Cosmetic Dentist
  • Periodontist
  • Prosthodontist
  • Oral Pathologist
  • Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon
  • Oral Radiologist
Licensing and registration body General Dental Council (GDC)
Dental foundation training allowance 42,600 USD*
Dental specialty training salary  49,383 to 62,582 USD*/year of training
Average salary of dentists 89,839 USD*/year (Indeed)
Average salaries of dental specialists 95,979 USD*/year (Check-a-Check)
Highest paid dental specializations  Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon 234,304 USD*/year (ERI)
Lowest paid dental specializations  Oral Radiologist

107,982 USD*/year (Salary Expert)

Career Scope for Dentists in the UK

As discussed above, there is a lot of scope for dentists in the public and private sectors in the UK. To become a dentist in the UK, a student needs to complete a BDS degree that lasts for 4 to 5 years. There are 14 accredited dental schools in the UK. Students should go through set entry requirements to study UK dentistry courses. These requirements are quite common to study dentistry courses in the UK. 

After that, students should register with the General Dental Council (GDC) to start practicing. GDC is the sole authority for regulating the UK’s dentistry sector. Upon graduation, students are asked to complete a compulsory year of dental foundation training (DFT). 

The majority of dental graduates get employed in 

  • General dental practice
  • NHS dental hospitals 
  • Community dental services 
  • Health charities
  • Private dental hospitals
  • Armed forces
  • Research organizations
  • Lectures in dental schools   

After graduation, students can also go for dental master’s specializations in the UK. There are 13 specializations listed on the GDC website. 

  1. Dental and Maxillofacial Radiology
  2. Dental Public Health
  3. Endodontics
  4. Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology
  5. Restorative Dentistry
  6. Oral Medicine
  7. Oral Microbiology
  8. Oral Surgery
  9. Orthodontics
  10. Pediatric Dentistry
  11. Periodontics
  12. Prosthodontics
  13. Special Care Dentistry

Upon completion of their master’s specializations, students can join the specialist list by GDC to practice a particular specialty (although not mandatory). Before a student enters the specialty register, they are awarded the Certificate of completion of specialist training (CCST). Only those who enter the list are allowed to use the title ‘specialist’. 

  • Public Health Dentist
  • Orthodontist
  • Endodontist 
  • Pediatric Dentist 
  • Cosmetic Dentist
  • Periodontist
  • Prosthodontist
  • Oral Pathologist
  • Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon
  • Oral Radiologist

International dental graduates have to register their degrees with GDC by answering the Overseas Registration Exam (ORE). The exam tests the clinical skills and knowledge of overseas dentists. There are two parts to the ORE exam: Part 1 is a written exam, and Part 2 is a clinical exam. And candidates can go for four attempts at each part of the exam. Upon passing the exam, they may practice as dentists in the UK. 

Skills to become a Dentist in the UK

Due to the limited number of dental schools, the competition to become a dentist in the UK is quite intense. Besides academic qualifications, students need to have certain skills to make their dream of becoming a UK doctor come true. Let us discuss a few important ones:

  • Since dentists work with complicated instruments, they should have excellent hand-eye coordination 
  • A dentist needs to have excellent communication skills to talk to people from toddlers to elders
  • A calm and focused mind to reassure nervous dental patients 
  • High levels of dexterity to carry out complex dental procedures in a confined space (mouth)
  • A keen interest in learning advanced skills 
  • If dentists wish to start their own practice, then they need to have a business aptitude
  • They should be able to work in a team (dental team of junior dentists, dental assistants, etc.)
  • Besides clinical skills, dentists need to have some technical skills. For example, the ability to use different medical instruments, x-ray reading, etc. 

Average salaries of Dentists in the UK

Dentists are paid highly in the UK. The average salary of dentists in the UK is 89,839 USD*/year (Indeed). The dentists doing DFT get paid an allowance of 42,600 USD*. The Department of Health and Social Care sets the allowance. The dental specialty trainees get paid a basic salary of 49,383 to 62,582 USD*/year of training. The average salary for a dental specialist in the UK is 95,979 USD*/year (Check-a-Check). Let us go through the salaries of dental specialists in the UK one by one. 

Type of Dental Speciality Annual Salary in USD*
Public Health Dentist 137,957 (Salary Expert)
Orthodontist 123,849 (Indeed)
Endodontist  140,135 (Salary Expert)
Pediatric Dentist  143,854 (Salary Expert)
Cosmetic Dentist 134,936 (Pay Scale)
Periodontist 137,457 (Salary Expert)
Prosthodontist 144,970 (Salary Expert)
Oral Pathologist 159,921 (Salary Expert)
Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon 234,304 (ERI)
Oral Radiologist 107,982 (Salary Expert)

*Note: All prices mentioned in the USD are for reference only. Exchange rates may vary from time to time and from country to country.

Frequently Asked Questions

Dentists in the UK can work both in the public and private sectors. They can work for the NHS dental hospitals, private hospitals, charities, armed forces, community dental services, and open a private practice. Dentists can also work in research organizations and as lecturers.

The average salary of dentists in the UK is 89,839 USD*/year (Indeed). The dental specialists on the other hand earn an average of 95,979 USD*/year (Check-a-Check).

Yes, international dentists can work in the UK as dentists. They have to take up the GDC’s Overseas Registration Exam (ORE). After passing both the written and clinical part of the ORE exam, students then can register with GDC and start practicing (provided they can find a job).