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Other career options

There are many other dental career options open to qualified dentists, including implant dentistry, dental indemnity, dental regulation, and prison dentistry.

Portfolio career

A portfolio career in dentistry involves combining different aspects of dentistry into a varied and flexible working life. This may include working in multiple dental practices, splitting time between primary and secondary dental care, providing dental consulting services, teaching at a dental school, or engaging in dental research.

A portfolio career provides the opportunity for a more stable and well-paid job a few days a week, and to do something completely different the rest of the time. Finding the right balance is essential. Embarking on a portfolio career usually means a period of uncertainty, at least initially. A portfolio career presents a real opportunity to accept that uncertainty and make it work.

Implant dentistry

Implant dentistry is one of the fastest growing branches of dentistry. Developing skills in dental implants is not only critical for clinicians specialising in prosthodontics, periodontics, restorative dentistry, and oral surgery, but is also becoming a greater part of general dental practice.

The initial challenge is choosing the right postgraduate training. To be proficient in implant treatment dentists ideally need a sound understanding and ability in both prosthodontics and oral surgery. To focus on just one aspect, such as implant-placement surgery, they must work in a wider team, with restorative dentists. It is important for dentists to consider where you will be practising so you can undertake the most appropriate postgraduate education.

Prison dentistry

Secure environments encompass a wide variety of prisons, young offender institutions, immigration removal centres and therapeutic communities. The common themes are individuals with high needs, poor socio-economic backgrounds, and high levels of mental ill health. Clinically it is important to be confident and competent in general dentistry.

Patients will vary in age, ranging from children to the elderly, depending on establishment, so research and understanding the population being cared for will dictate the clinical and interpersonal skills needed. Although not a specialty in dentistry, prison dentistry does benefit from Dentist with Special Interest (DwSI) status, with the Faculty of Dental Practice publishing guidelines for appointment.

DFT Educational Supervisor

An Educational Supervisor (ES) is responsible for delivering training within a dental practice. The ES role includes facilitating clinical training on patients in the practice and coaching and mentoring Foundation Dentists (FD).

Training can be done jointly with another dentist, which can help new educational supervisors initially. The ES would normally be expected to work in the same practice as the FD for at least three days per week and must perform some NHS treatment. The ES helps the FD clinically with advice, and of course practical intervention if required.

Volunteering abroad

Many UK dentists volunteer to participate in dental projects in developing countries organised by charitable organisations. ​The range of organisations and projects is wide, both in geographical distribution and in length of time spent working in another country. The cultural setting is likely to be very different and some clinical preparation can also be useful as the equipment, health and safety precautions and the presenting dental conditions are likely to be different from those in the UK.

Organisations running voluntary projects should provide you with appropriate information on the country you are volunteering to work in and its regulatory framework and help you with accommodation, travel, and general queries. We advise dentists to examine the organisation’s policies closely to ensure they will be appropriately supported and have sufficient advice and services.

Working abroad

Many dentists think about the possibility of working in another country at some point during their career. It is important to consider eligibility to register qualifications and what immigration rules will need to be complied with. If a work permit is required, short-term travel visas are usually more easily available for individuals under the age of 35 (national rules will vary).

Stay in touch with the profession in the UK during any absence and get all the relevant information. It may be difficult to walk back into dentistry after a lengthy stay abroad as the profession is constantly changing. We recommend all dentists should stay on the GDC register to make returning to dentistry easier.

[Download our career guide to find out more about other career options.]