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The majority of dentists in the UK work as self-employed general dental practitioners from their own practices, either privately, through the National Health Service or both. The rest will work as salaried professionals in other areas, such as community dentistry, hospital dentistry, research, school and university dentistry or in the Armed Forces.
Dentists examine patients’ teeth and inform them on any treatment they might need to either treat or prevent problems. General practitioners will often have to refer patients to specialists if they cannot provide a particular treatment or perform a specific procedure themselves. Much of the work will involve routine check-ups with regular patients.
It is the responsibility of a dentist to teach patients the best way to look after their teeth and gums, supply any informative literature or demonstrate the best techniques using toothbrushes, floss or other oral hygiene tools.
The dentist, hygienists and administrators will keep and update patients’ dental records, including x-rays and casts.
Increasingly, dentists in the UK are specialising in cosmetic dentistry. Similar to general dentists they will examine patients’ teeth and inform them on any treatment they might need to either treat or prevent problems. However, those who call themselves cosmetic dentists may focus particularly on aesthetics - the look and shape of the teeth and mouth.
Cosmetic dentist will often fix discoloured, gappy or crooked teeth to create the perfect smile. Veneers are also becoming more common.
It is the responsibility of a dentist to teach patients the best way to look after their teeth and gums after these procedures.
They work closely with other members of staff in the dental practice, including hygienists.
To ensure patients are being given the best possible treatment, all dentists and dental care professionals are required by the General Dental Council to undertake a minimum of 250 hours of CPD across a five-year post-registration cycle. CPD could involve any number of activities, including attending seminars or lectures, distance or multimedia learning, private study, peer assessment or research.
Continual Professional Development covers a number of areas relevant to all dental care professionals, the three core subjects of which are dealing with medical emergencies, disinfection and radiography and radiation.
For more information about Continual Professional Development please visit the General Dental Council