The best parts about a career in dentistry
Precision – Melbourne dentist Viet Nguyen loves the precision of a job well done. This includes the challenge of complex dental work such as crowns and fillings as well as the simpler task of cleaning teeth.
Relieving pain and stress – dentists are able to deal with emergencies such as a broken tooth, a lost tooth, a toothache, problems with braces, and a lost filling or crown, each of with can have a great impact on the patient!
Student volunteer programs and conferences – There are student dental associations across the globe, and some provide opportunities for volunteering in locations including third world countries, as well as attending conferences in exotic locations.
Prevent hospitalization – Tooth decay is the most common reason for pre-schoolers to be hospitalized in Australia and dental care is one of the major reasons for children to have general anaesthetics. Dentists can literally help prevent kids from having to go to hospital by treating tooth decay and encouraging good oral health practices from an early age.
In this article two dentists share the reasons they love their job. Sydney based dentist Dr Farrelly says he loves it most when people are no longer self-conscious about their teeth and can proudly show their smile. Dr Philippa Sawyer is a specialist paediatric dentist in Sydney and enjoys the opportunity to interact with children and provide preventative and restorative care.
Dentists Dr Wilfred Koon and Dr Sonia Sonia both recognize the anxiety patients may experience during a dental consultation. Dr Koon, in an article about mindfulness, declared his passion on helping patients overcome their dental fears and anxieties while Dr Sonia mentioned that through practicing mindfulness, she was able to help her patients to be calm.
Things you really need to consider before deciding to study dentistry
Be prepared physically and mentally – The majority of dental students can expect to experience physical pain, most commonly in the neck, shoulders and back. There is also evidence that dental students experience considerable amounts of stress during their training, which is mainly due to the demanding nature of the course. Be prepared to deal with the physical and mental toll this course can take.
Competitive jobs market – Please expect a competitive jobs market if you want to work in a metropolitan area. The cost of opening a practice in a rural area can mean that it isn’t a viable prospect, but government programs such as the Dental Relocation and Infrastructure Support Scheme may help. Please see the “are dentistry graduates getting jobs” section below for a complete overview of the jobs market for dental graduates.
Areas of competency – The Australian Dental Council has set out six main areas of competency for becoming a dentist. These are professionalism, communication and social skills, critical thinking, health promotion, scientific & clinical knowledge and patient care.
Brisbane dentist and former clinical supervisor William Ha shares details on why some students find the course difficult:
Are dentistry graduates getting jobs?
The jobs market for dental graduates became very competitive in 2012, 2012 and 2014. This was partly due to the fact that there are now 9 dental schools in Australia where there were previously 5.
The fact that dentistry was removed from the Skilled Occupations List (SOL) on 1st July 2015 means that the future for dental graduates is looking brighter. At the end of 2014, 79.6% of graduates from Australian dentistry courses had found a full time job, leaving the remaining 20.4% working in casual or part-time positions while looking for a full time job. At the end of 2015 there was an improvement, with an 86.7% full time employment rate of dental graduates.
However, the Australian Dental Association has said that even after the profession was removed from the SOL, there are still some concerns for new graduates and students regarding the employment rate.
To understand the dynamics of the dental workforce and how the Skilled Occupations List decision is likely to impact the jobs market for dentists, please read the following articles carefully:
- ADA President Rick Olive says there is “more work to be done in order to secure the future of Australian dental students and new graduates” despite an increased grad employment rate in 2015 (Feb 2016)
- GradStats from the turn of the century (January 2016)
- Future looking brighter for dentistry graduates as profession is removed from the Skilled Occupations List (July 2015)
- Is graduating and going into a high paying job as a dentist no longer a reality?
- Our 2014 forecast was right: over 20% of dental graduates missed out on a full time job
- Australian Dental Association calls on government to review dental workforce
- 1 in 6 Australian dental graduates seeking full-time employment (2013 cohort)
- Dental graduates 2012…. Did they get jobs?
- Is a dental workforce oversupply looming?
What do dentists do?
Obviously dentists perform oral health examinations which involve a “scale and clean.” However, there is a lot more to it than that.
Melbourne dentist Viet Nguyen has shared his views on “a day in the life of a dentist.” Dr William Ha shares insights on what a dentist does during a routine consultation:
Every day at least 3 Australians will be diagnosed with oral cancer. Drug use can also impact oral health, and dentists may need to treat the effects of “meth mouth.”
Dentists also have a significant responsibility to their patients in protecting them from bloode borne diseases. Patients are at risk of diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis if dentists do not follow strict infection control protocols.
By the age of 6, over half of all Australian children suffer from tooth decay. Dentists can do custom fittings of mouth guards.
The Dental Board of Australia lists 13 areas of specialization for dentists, including oral pathology, orthodontics and paediatric dentistry.
Where are the courses?
Click here for the list of dentistry courses in Australia.
GAMSAT or UMAT – Depending on which course you are looking at applying for, you may need a GAMSAT or UMAT score.
Please see our infographic page on the pathways to becoming a dentist for more information.
ATAR / OP for dentistry
Click here for ATAR / OP information for a dentistry courses in Australia.
Click here for the latest news about dentistry.
Please read our scholarship listing thoroughly for this information. There is a section about dentistry towards the bottom of the page.
How much money do dentists earn?
In 2015 the statistics on myfuture said that full time dentists earned $1824 per week and part time dentists earned $1390 per week. You will also find more information in our article on the median income for health graduates in 2015 and 2013 article how much money do health professionals really earn?
Videos about a career in dentistry
Click here to watch more videos about a career in dentistry.
Career information from professional associations
Go to this page and click on the links to organisations such as the Australian Dental Association from there.
Image 1: artur84 – freedigitalphotos.net
Image 2: Stuart Miles – freedigitalphotos.net
This page was last updated in May 2018.