Whilst the university training to become a dentist is long and arduous the reality is that a 5 year degree is just the tip of the learning curve. As a dentist you will be expected to learn continuously, develop your skills and keep up to date with all the latest developments and “best practice” medical advances that are released.
At the most basic level you will need to keep up to date with best practices. However, if you intend to develop your career you will need to do more than just keep up to date you will need to actively develop your talents. To keep at the forefront of medical practice you will need to read research papers, medical journals and extensive studies. You will also need to develop your talents in every aspect of your job and take courses to advance your knowledge.
There are a wide range of dental specialisations you are able to learn and these often attract significantly increased salaries. Some of them will take you into strange new pastures others are more ”traditional”. Most specialisations involve a minimum of three years of fulltime post-graduate study leading to your inclusion on what is known as a “specialist list”. These lists are maintained by the General Dental Council (the governing body for dentists in the UK) and only those dentists on these lists can legally call themselves a “specialist” in their field.
There is no shortage of work for specialist Orthodontists with more than 200,000 children in the UK starting Orthodontic treatment every year. Recent technological advances including “invisible” braces such as Invisalign and lingual braces (placed at the back of the teeth making them virtually invisible) mean that more and more working professionals are able to discreetly straighten their teeth too.
Not technically a specialisation (as there is no specialist list for Implantologists) however advanced training is nonetheless highly recommended, especially if you are to take on multiple and full-mouth implant cases. Typical treatment costs are high which makes this a worthwhile pursuit.
Forensic dentistry is used by police services worldwide to identify deceased people from their dental records. This is a very unusual specialisation that attracts very few dentists. The only course for forensic dentistry on offer is in Wales and there are only a few dozen qualified dentists in the whole of Europe. This means the job involves frequent travel. If you aren’t squeamish this is a good specialisation if you want to help solve crimes and assist in the identification of the deceased.
Professional Courses and Conferences
As well as specialisations and research there are a plethora of conferences and professional courses available. Conferences are a great place to network and make new connections as well as a place to learn more and keep up to date with best practices. But they also offer you the opportunity to showcase your own research and build your own reputation as a field leader.
Professional courses are even more important and better for your career development. The reality is that there are hundreds of professional courses available for you. There are professional online courses such as those run by Oral-B who work with leading dentistry experts to create dental education courses.
Choosing courses will be essential if you want to develop your career further but, truth be told, they aren’t completely necessary. The “on the job” training you receive in most dental practices will put you in good stead to develop and progress your career and with dental salaries so high many people are quite content to maintain their usual practice. What clinic is a good place to look at dental reviews.