How to Become a Dentist: Australian Careers in Dentistry

Without dentists, people’s teeth would not be receiving the care and treatment they need in this day and age. A dentist works to improve the oral/dental health of his or her patients. Daily duties include examinations, X-rays, treating tooth decay and cavities, repairing damaged teeth, root canal treatment and tooth extractions. Dentists also educate adults and children on oral healthcare, create treatment plans, maintain patient records, manage staff, and continually update their knowledge of developments in the industry. Dentists often run their own practices, but they may also work in larger dental centres and hospitals, or within the health insurance sector. Certain areas of dentistry require specialist training, so the length and intensity study path will be determined by your interests and how high you want to climb the dental career ladder

  • Task Career in focus: What does a dentist does

    A dentist’s job is to care for teeth – examining the mouth, teeth and gums, diagnosing any problems, treating the area of concern, advising the patient and referring them to a specialist if needed. It is recommended that people see a dentist at least once a year, even more if they are at a higher risk of developing gum disease or other serious issues. By educating patients on best-practice oral care, and issues such as proper plaque removal and reducing or ceasing smoking and excessive sugar consumption, they also work towards long-term oral health outcomes. 

    Tasks:

    • Examining teeth
    • Regular scaling and fluoride treatments
    • Treating gum disease and tooth decay
    • Organising treatment plans
    • Tooth extraction
  • Skills Core qualities: Skills to succeed as a dentist

    To be a dentist it is essential to complete the relevant tertiary qualifications in oral health and dentistry. A dentist must be patient, soothing and comfortable with performing dental surgery and administering injections. Dentistry courses are highly competitive and often have limited places so applicants must perform well in the Undergraduate Medicine and Health Sciences Admission Test (UMAT) before embarking on tertiary studies in dentistry.

    Skills/attributes
    • Excellent eyesight
    • Manual dexterity
    • Intense concentration
    • Genuine care for patients
    • Ability to use specialist equipment
  • Specialisations The field: Specialisations within dentistry

    Dentistry is a huge industry, offering many different career paths that allow you to tailor your studies and training to help you find fulfilment in your professional work. Below are just some of the popular specialisations in the field of dentistry.

    Orthodontist

    This highly lucrative career involves the straightening of teeth using equipment such as braces, retainers, and orthodontic bands. Orthodontists also diagnose oral disease and treat injuries, abnormalities and deformities of the teeth and mouth, including the jaw. People seek out orthodontist upon recommendation of their general dentist – often due to crooked teeth, gaps in the teeth, an overbite or other concerning issue. The orthodontist will use surgery and other procedures to achieve the best health outcomes for patients. This highly specialised field requires post-graduate study, licensing and registration. 

    Paediatric dentist

    Paediatric dentists work with children from birth to adolescence. They examine the teeth and mouth, diagnose oral health issues and formulate treatment plans. Paediatric dentists also educate children on the importance of oral hygiene, proper brushing techniques, and the impact of a poor diet on oral health and tooth decay. This career path requires relevant tertiary qualifications and licensing.

    Periodontist

    A periodontist treats the gums and bone structure that support the teeth. This speciality area requires a high level of training and expertise. They may treat conditions such as gingivitis or perform oral surgery on more serious oral health problems. Periodontists typically work in private practices and have their patients referred by general dental practitioners, so building and maintaining relationships with other dentists is critical to running a successful practice. 

    Prosthodontist/Cosmetic Dentist

    A prosthodontist works in cosmetic dentistry. They work to enhance patients’ appearance by replacing missing teeth with dentures and bridges, and often treat those who have suffered an injury or illness that has resulted in the loss of teeth. They construct oral prosthetics to replace missing teeth and use complex oral procedures to correct mouth and jaw deformities to help repair functions such as chewing and speech. Cosmetic dentistry also involves the use of veneers, and techniques such as teeth whitening. 

  • Pathways The right track: Find study options for becoming a dentist

    There are opportunities for employment in dentistry at many levels, from entry-level positions requiring vocational training to specialised study for those pursuing highly skilled roles within dentistry.

    Starting Out

    These vocational courses will allow you to join the dental profession in an entry-level role, such as dental assistant, requiring supervision from senior staff.

    Building Skills

    These vocational courses will allow you to join the dental profession in an entry-level role, such as dental assistant, requiring supervision from senior staff.

    Developing Your Resume

    If you want to go further than just being a dentist, you can pursue more specialised courses that will allow you to put your skills to the test in a more niche area. Orthodontics is a popular specialist area of dentistry. 

    Industry Recognition

    Australian dental professionals must register with Australian Dental Industry Association (ADIA) after successful completion of a relevant tertiary qualification.

    Entering the Workforce

    Put your training to good use and fast track your dentistry career. Take a look at our sample resume and cover letter and put your best foot forward when you apply for jobs in dentistry.

    Job prospects in Dentistry: Working life as a dentist

    Dentistry has always been in high demand, and with our increasing focus on physical appearance, the area of cosmetic dentistry in particular is booming. Employment for general dental practitioners to November 2019 is also expected to grow strongly as people begin to care more for their dental health.

Dental Industry Resources:

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