Public Health Online Resource for Careers, Skills and Training

Home  »  Careers, roles and job requirements  »  Regulation and formal qualification  »  Regulated Professions Relevant To Public Health Careers  »  Dentistry



The General Dental Council regulates all dentists. To work as a dentist, you study for a degree in Dental Surgery (BDS or BChD) at a recognized dental school. You may have to pass a clinical aptitude test. Study normally takes 5 years. You then do a year of supervised paid vocational training in an approved practice. You can then work as first an associate or after more experience, as an assistant in general dental practice. There are defined career pathways with specialist postgraduate education in areas such as hospital or primary care dentistry. To find out more about working in dentistry, click here.

Dental Professionals

You can work in many other roles in dentistry, such as dental hygienists, dental therapists, dental nurses, dental technicians, among others. You must hold a recognized qualification such as a National or Scottish Vocational Qualification (see the Types of Qualification section) if you want to be a dental nurse. Alternatively, you can study a diploma or a degree if you want to be a dental hygienist or dental therapist. For all these roles, you must be registered with the General Dental Council. Find out more about how to work in these roles by clicking here.  

See career story: 


“Within my dental career I realised the importance of prevention”

Mel Smith – Dental Public Health Project Manager


Dental Public Health Specialist

To work as a Dental Public Health Specialist, you can follow the standard route onto the specialized dental register. To do so, you undertake specialist training in Dental Public Health offered by the Royal College of Surgeons (England). To find out more, click here. You must pass an examination leading to the award of a Master's degree in Dental Public Health or a Master's in Public Health that includes a dental public health module. You must hold a Certificate of Completion of Specialist Training (CSST). Some training can include a PhD. You can then register with GDC as a consultant in Dental Public Health. You automatically join the Public Health Register.

Staying on the register

Dentists must meet the standards of their regulator to stay on the register. This includes 250 hours of CPD every five years. You are expected to complete a record of what you have done and show evidence to verify your development. To find out more, click here. 


See career story: 


“the key personal characteristics that help me to succeed in my career can be summed up as being focused, committed , compassionate and organised”

Maura Edwards – Consultant in Dental Public Health


Back to top