Dental treatment is an important part of the overall health service. It can help avoid tooth decay and other problems that may lead to hospital admissions.
However, access to care is becoming more difficult. A BBC investigation has found that nine in ten NHS dentists across the UK are not taking on new adult patients, and eight in 10 are not accepting children.
Dentists are healthcare professionals who diagnose and treat problems with the mouth, teeth and gums. They can work in a variety of settings, including dental practices, hospitals and care homes.
A dentist will usually work in a team with other healthcare professionals, such as dental hygienists and dental therapists, who help with hygiene and prevention of disease. They will also carry out treatments and procedures such as fillings, extractions, whitening and fitting dentures.
As a dentist, you will be responsible for keeping careful records of your patients’ medical history and dental treatment. You will also carry out routine examinations, check patients’ teeth for tooth decay and provide emergency treatment when necessary.
In order to become a dentist in the UK, you need an approved degree and some postgraduate training. These qualifications take five years to complete and are regulated by the General Dental Council.
There are many things in life that require registration, such as going to a college, voting or attending a conference. Similarly, when you need to become a new patient at an NHS dentist, it usually involves filling out some paperwork and then arranging your first appointment.
In dentistry, overseas-qualified dentists need to pass a UK-based registration exam in order to practice in the UK. The exam is known as the ORE, which assesses their clinical skills and knowledge.
The ORE is a two-part test that aims to evaluate the candidates’ clinical abilities and knowledge of dentistry, in line with the requirements of a “recently graduated” UK BDS graduate.
Overseas dentists need to have a valid visa and passport in order to work in the UK. These documents should be valid for at least a year. If you don’t have these documents, your visa will be denied and you won’t be able to practice in the UK.
Dentists in the UK work with patients to treat and prevent dental and oral disease and injuries. They can work in a variety of settings, including dental surgeries, clinics and hospitals.
Most dentists in the UK are self-employed contractors – mixing NHS and private work. They are often required to work evenings, weekends and on call.
There is a lot of competition for dentist posts. Even if you pass the Overseas Registration Exam (ORE) of the GDC, you are not guaranteed to get a job in the UK.
The taxable income of high street dentists providing NHS care in England has fallen by nearly 40% over 10 years, and the government is considering changes to the way they are paid. The current system is known as UDAs and pays dentists for each unit of dental activity (UDA) they complete in a 12-month period.
There are many different types of dental insurance policies available in the UK. These can either cover you only for NHS treatment or include a contribution towards private treatment too, depending on your needs and budget.
In most cases, you pay the dentist first, then claim back the money from your insurer. You can start making claims between one and three months after you buy the cover, but some policies set annual limits on how much you can claim for certain treatments.
Most dental policies in the UK provide cover for preventative maintenance, such as check-ups, scale and polish and X-rays, as well as restorative treatments, like fillings, root canal treatment and crowns. Some also cover emergency care and oral cancer treatment (which is around 8,300 people in the UK every year), but you may have to pay extra for this.