Edge browser users:
To download Word, Excel or PowerPoint files please right-click on the file you wish to download, and select 'Save link as...'
Dental roles at all levels - browse our listings

Community dentistry

Community dentistry is generally referred to as the salaried service. It is officially called the Salaried Primary Dental Care Service in England and Wales (SPDCS), the Public Dental Service (PDS) in Scotland and the Community Dental Service (CDS) in Northern Ireland.

The salaried service is a managed service in which dentists have a contract of employment to fulfil and service standards to meet. Like any other part of the cash-limited NHS, including general practice, the work is often challenging and stressful, yet rewarding.


The salaried services provide a particular set of dental services, which include:

  • Comprehensive care for people of all ages who have special needs and/or who are medically compromised
  • Care for people who have found difficulty in accessing general dental services
  • Specialist services, such as orthodontics, sedation, general anaesthetics
  • Screening of school children and other groups
  • Planning and delivery of oral health promotion
  • Providing epidemiology work to support dental public health activity.

Salaried primary care dentists work in a number of different clinical settings with a variety of support staff. Domiciliary visits and mobile surgeries are a routine part of the service. Visiting patients in their own homes or care homes is often necessary due to their special needs. This can also give the dentist more information on their social history, the circumstances in which they live and the effect this may have on compliance with their dentist’s advice. Dentists often work in close liaison with other health care professionals and social services to deliver effective holistic care to their patients.


The standard of dentistry provided in the service is high and DCPs are well trained. Dentists in the salaried services can offer patients time, expertise, skill and care. For a new graduate, it is a very stimulating environment in which to learn. It is also possible to undertake DF1 in the salaried service as many services also now have specialist training posts. Benefits include an organised clinical management structure and the support of peers, access to structured study leave and financial help with relevant additional training, and non-salary benefits, such as paid annual and sick leave and full NHS maternity pay and leave.


Career pathway

There is a well-defined hierarchy within the salaried service and the different posts have distinct roles and responsibilities. However, at present, there is not the same established career structure as in the hospital services. In total there are in the region of 1,600 dentists employed in the service.


A possible career route could be:

  • DFT/VT
  • DCT (formally DF2)
  • Clinical Dental Officer (Band A)
  • Senior Dental Officer (Band B – MSc MClin Dent)
  • Specialist Dentist (Band C)
  • Clinical Director (management and clinical)
  • Consultant in Special Care Dentistry (via DCT)

Further information

To find out more about working in community dentistry, read the BDA Career Guide.