Health Service Categories and Careers


Dentistry is concerned with teeth, oral health and the oral cavity. It seeks to provide management and treatment of dental conditions that affect oral health and cause pain, including the ability to eat and get nutrition, and communicate. Dentistry involves diagnostic assessment/X-ray, dental examination, and a range of therapeutic and surgical procedures to improve oral health and function and help to reduce pain and infection. Dentistry involves procedures such as tooth extraction, root canal therapy, dental prosthesis, cleaning, preventative dentistry and education. Dental services are provided by Dentists, specialist Dentists and other members of the dental team, including Dental Assistants, Hygienists, and Therapists. Dentistry is practiced in hospitals, private practices, and in community and out-reach settings. Technical dentistry services are provided in dental laboratories by Prosthetists and teams of Dental Technicians. Specialist dentistry includes Oral-Maxillo Facial surgery which is also a surgical specialty within medicine, that deals with complex dentistry conditions including facial trauma.

Dentistry Jobs

Dental Support Worker and receptionist roles support the operation of the dental clinic or service by undertaking routine tasks, which may involve receptionist/ administration duties, including greeting and informing patients, booking appointments, stock takes and ordering of supplies. Dental Support work involves cleaning and sterilising, mixing dental materials and setting up the examination room, chairside support, record keeping, and other work that supports the dental team and patients. Some roles involve visiting patients in their own homes and providing education and advice. There are no formal qualification requirements to work in Dental Support, or as a Dental receptionist, and employment in these roles can be combined with training and study opportunities for further career development.

Dental Nurses work closely with dentists, patients and other members of the dental team, including hygienists and therapists. They provide clinical assistance, including infection control, chairside support, maintenance and set up of equipment and materials, and detailed record-keeping of patients' teeth and their clinical management. They support the dentist in undertaking procedures. They educate and support patients, providing holistic nursing care. They may help deliver public health programs in the community. To work as a Dental Nurse, there are apprenticeship or degree options, or the opportunity to transition from other nursing fields. Dental Nurses register with the GDC. They can undertake extra training to operate x-rays, make impressions and models of the teeth, or apply fluoride varnish. They can also gain extra qualifications in dental implant nursing, oral health education, orthodontic nursing, dental sedation nursing and clinical photography. There are also pathways to become a dental hygienist, dental therapist or orthodontic therapists.

Dental Technicians/Technologists work in dental laboratory settings. They play a technical and hands-on role making dental appliances, prescribed by the Dentist, which help to improve a patient’s appearance, speech and/or ability to chew. Dental Technicians have digital design skills, and a good understanding of dental prosthesis materials. They build and repair dental appliances, including dentures, crowns, bridges and dental braces, usually specialising in either prosthodontics, orthodontics, or crown and bridge work. Some technicians work in hospital units helping with jaw and facial reconstruction. Dental technicians/technologists have completed a diploma or degree in Dental Technology and need to register with the General Dental Council (GDC). They can specialise in certain technologies and dental applications, and they can complete further clinical training enabling them to work autonomously and directly with patients so they can measure, fit and modify the dental prosthesis and make sure it is comfortable and functional, gain feedback, and provide advice and information. There are also on-the-job traineeships available in this field.

Dental Therapists/ Hygienists / Orthodontic Therapists along with dental nurses, dental technicians and clinical dental technicians, are collectively known as Dental Care Professionals who are registered with the GDC. They have undertaken a bachelor’s degree in dental therapy and hygiene, or postgraduate qualifications/training after dental nursing or technology. They can assess and treat dental disorders in children and adolescents. They educate and help motivate people, young and old, to care for and improve their oral health. They provide routine dental services for adults and children, including dental examinations and preventative and periodontal dental treatments, such as cleaning and polishing, fluoride treatment, X-rays, fillings and fissure sealants, extraction of deciduous teeth, and pulpotomies They may work in mobile clinics out in the community, or as part of the dentist-led team in hospitals or private practices. They provide patients with routine dental care, and this helps to free up the dentist for more complex and specialised procedures. Orthodontic therapists help the dentist or orthodontist with orthodontic treatments, such as insertion or removal of braces and other orthodontic appliances.

Dentists, also known as general dental practitioners (GDPs), provide comprehensive and general dental care to people of all ages in the community, including preventive, restorative, and cosmetic dentistry. They apply fixed prosthodontics, provide periodontal therapy, and perform extractions, surgery, and emergency procedures. They often lead a team of dental professionals and staff. They can diagnose diseases, design treatment plans, perform hygiene checks and periodic exams, take and interpret X-rays and other diagnostic tests, prescribe medications, and refer patients for specialty care as required. General Dentists work in primary and secondary care settings, including private practices and dental hospitals. They may be involved in community and public health dentistry, and teaching. Dentists have completed a 5-year degree in dentistry and postgraduate training. They are registered with the GDC. With further training, they can pursue a dental specialty, such as oral and maxillofacial surgery, oral surgery, orthodontics, paediatric dentistry or restorative dentistry.

Specialist Dentists are qualified and registered dentists who have undertaken further postgraduate training in a specialty area of dentistry. They work in specialist dental units in hospitals and private clinics, including in acute and emergency settings, as well as in laboratories and secondary care or tertiary institutions. They work in areas such as dental and maxillofacial surgery, radiology, or pathology; periodontics, prosthodontics, or endodontics; dental public health, oral medicine, oral microbiology, paediatric dentistry, restorative dentistry or special care dentistry. They are senior dentists who provide clinical leadership and expertise in their dental specialty, and are often responsible for managing and training junior staff.