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The basics
Study abroad : Subject Guides

Where can studying Dentistry abroad take you?

A Dentistry degree is highly demanding but very rewarding, find out where it can take you

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Mentioning the word ‘dentist’ can drag us back to our dreariest childhood memories, when the buzzing sound of the drill meant only one thing: fillings. However, dentists perform a vital role in the protection of our oral hygiene, and public health more generally. Because of the development of modern dentistry, tooth decay means, at worst, an unpleasant experience in the dentist’s chair. Centuries ago, it could have resulted in death. The importance of dentistry lies in contributing to the improvement of the oral and dental health of the population, making professionals in oral care highly desired in many countries across the world – in other words, it’s an excellent degree to study abroad.


As you might expect, however, it isn’t easy. Choosing to study Dentistry means leaving university with a degree that is almost guaranteed to ensure you high-paying employment, anywhere in the world. But as with any area of study that puts people’s health in your hands, this isn’t a good reason to choose to study it, and you have to be prepared for years of hard work in the service of others.


What can you expect from a Dentistry course?



Dentistry courses typically encompass four to five years of full-time study, and students will have a busy timetable from the very beginning of their course, including studying the foundations of oral physiology and time spent in the clinic, all of which will require putting a high amount of energy into your studies. While your friends studying Arts or Humanities subjects may have only a few hours of lectures a week, expect to be at university nine-to-five, five days a week. However, this commitment will be rewarded with a close-knit peer group, providing a good support network that accompanies students throughout their studies, alongside lots of activities designed the student committees of the Dentistry School.


Part of the challenge of studying Dentistry is being thrown into practicing it almost immediately. Professor Liz Kay, Dean of the Peninsula School of Medicine and Dentistry at Plymouth University in the UK admits that studying Dentistry is ‘clinically intensive’ and brings with it a lot of exposure to patients. “We want them to treat real people from the beginning, giving them total holistic care just as if they were in general practice. Then later on in the course they will be exposed to the specialties,” she explains.


However, these are not the only features that you can expect from the Dentistry course. One of the most recurrent worries of dentistry students is that they will not be prepared to respond professionally to diverse challenges in the clinic, however modules in areas including preventive dentistry, health education, dental practice administration, and dental mechanics, among many others, are a core part of any Dentistry course. Owing into their growing appeal in the market, specialisations such as cosmetic dentistry and orthodontics have also become popular options for those seeking more independence in their future businesses.


Dentistry is not only demanding in terms of the amount of contact hours, but also the way it is assessed. It typically consists of many exams, both written and practical. During exam periods, expect to become a hermit.



What do you need to study Dentistry?



When applying to study Dentistry, every institution is looking for very particular qualities from applicants:


  • Dexterity: You have to be good with your hands: you will be using potentially dangerous instruments in a very small space (the dreaded drill in the mouth, for example). It is common for prospective Dentistry students to be asked to demonstrate their manual dexterity skills, for example playing a musical instrument to a high level, or assembling small models.
  • A commitment to serving others: As we said, Dentistry is a very well paid profession, but universities are not interested in applicants who are only interested in financial gain. After all, you will be dealing with something very important, public health. In order to demonstrate this commitment, you should endeavour to gain experience serving the community through volunteer activities.
  • A knowledge of anatomy, both of the mouth and face, and the body in general: This is of course something you will pick up as you study, but universities are looking for students with a strong understanding of the science of the body, which can be demonstrated through A Levels or equivalent in Biology and Chemistry, for example.
  • Ability to work well individually and as part of a team: Studying Dentistry will involve a mixture of individual work and work as a group, and in a clinic as a professional dentist work with assistants and partners – being able to show you are a good team player is essential to Dentistry.


More generally, in order to apply to a Dentistry course, you need to comply with all the entry level requirements of the institutions you are applying to, and be able to demonstrate a proficiency in English if it is not your first language, for example through an IELTS test. There is then usually an interview, which seeks to establish what your motivations to follow the dentistry profession are, this can be completed by Skype or over the phone if you are applying from abroad. Again, it is about demonstrating your commitment to the greater good, to public health, and to communities, as opposed to personal gain, though ambition will always be valued.


Where can you study Dentistry?


Cardiff University's main building


Not every university has a Dentistry School: while you might find thousands of institutions offering a variety of History degrees, for example, globally less than 500 universities offer Dentistry. These universities are usually among global leaders generally, so you will need to be a high performing student who meets all their necessary requirements in order to apply. Here are some examples of universities with Dentistry Schools, and the variety of options available for studying Dentistry:


  • Dentistry BDS at Cardiff University, Wales, UK: To illustrate our point about the limited number of Dentistry Schools, there are ten universities in Wales, but only one which offer Dentistry, Cardiff. BDS stands for Bachelor of Dental Surgery, and is the standard undergraduate Dentistry degree program in the UK. The University of Cardiff’s Dentistry School is closely linked to the NHS, providing students with the opportunity for large amounts of clinical experience.
  • Pre-Dentistry at Houston Baptist University, Texas, USA: It is common for institutions in the USA to offer a Pre-Dentistry course, designed for students who wish to go on to study Dentistry at a higher level and eventually pursue a career in the profession. Pre-Dentistry offers a ‘series of classes and activities designed to prepare students’ for entry into Dentistry Schools, including Biology, Chemistry and Mathematics. A core aspect of the course is giving students access to Dentistry Schools through field trips and workshops.
  • Bachelor of Dental Science at Charles Sturt University, New South Wales, Australia: Over five years, the Bachelor of Dental Science degree at Charles Sturt University provides an all-encompassing approach to Dentistry, covering everything from the ‘core biomedical and dental sciences’ to the ‘the medical, dental, social and community context of dental clinical practice’. Upon graduation, students are qualified dental practitioners with the ability to work in all Australian states and territories.


Where can studying Dentistry take you?



Usually, most people who study Dentistry go on to become dental professionals, and there is a global high demand for people in this profession. In the US alone, for example, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expect demand for dentists to increase by 16% in the decade between 2012 and 2022. The process for entering medical practice after graduation varies from country to country, however it is impossible to begin these later steps without firstly graduating from a Dentistry School.


Nevertheless, studying Dentistry doesn’t mean you have to go into direct medical practice – studying such a demanding course prepares you for work in almost any industry or profession. Even within Dentistry, for example, an oral care professional can perform work within in management, education, research and other matters related to people’s oral care, which makes of them integral professionals and care providers.




You can begin your search for the perfect Dentistry course here.

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