How to become a Dentist

A Comprehensive Guide on how to become a Dentist

Becoming a dentist in Australia is a rewarding career choice that offers a combination of scientific knowledge, technical skill, and a genuine commitment to patient care. Dentists play a crucial role in maintaining oral health, preventing dental diseases, and improving patients’ overall quality of life. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the steps and requirements to become a dentist in Australia.

1. Understanding the Role of a Dentist

Dentists diagnose and treat oral health issues, including cavities, gum disease, and tooth decay. They also perform procedures such as fillings, extractions, and root canals, and provide preventive care and education to help patients maintain good oral hygiene. Additionally, dentists may specialize in areas such as orthodontics, periodontics, or pediatric dentistry.

2. Dentist Educational Pathway

A. Complete Secondary Education

The journey to becoming a dentist in Australia begins with completing secondary education. Aspiring dentists should focus on subjects such as biology, chemistry, and physics, as these are essential for dental studies. Achieving a high Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) is crucial, as dental programs are highly competitive.

B. Enroll in an Undergraduate Dental Program

After secondary education, the next step is to enroll in an accredited undergraduate dental program. In Australia, there are several universities that offer Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS), Bachelor of Dental Science (BDSc), or Bachelor of Dental Medicine (BDM) degrees. Some of the prominent universities offering dental programs include:

Admission to these programs typically requires a combination of a high ATAR score and a successful performance in the University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT). The UCAT assesses a range of abilities including critical thinking, problem-solving, and spatial awareness.

C. Complete the Dental Program

An undergraduate dental program usually takes five years to complete. The curriculum includes a combination of theoretical coursework and practical clinical training. Students learn about various aspects of dentistry, including anatomy, physiology, dental materials, and clinical techniques. Clinical placements are a significant component of the program, providing hands-on experience in treating patients under the supervision of experienced dentists.

how to become a dentist

3. Obtain Registration

Upon successful completion of the dental program, graduates must obtain registration with the Dental Board of Australia (DBA) to practice as a dentist. The registration process involves several steps:

A. Apply for General Registration

Graduates must apply for general registration with the DBA. This involves submitting an application form along with supporting documents such as proof of identity, academic qualifications, and a certificate of good standing. The DBA assesses the application to ensure that the applicant meets the required standards of competence and ethical conduct.

B. Pass the Australian Dental Council (ADC) Examination (if required)

If you have obtained your dental degree from a university outside Australia, you may need to pass the Australian Dental Council (ADC) examination. The ADC exam assesses the knowledge and clinical skills of internationally trained dentists to ensure they meet the standards required to practice in Australia. The exam consists of written and practical components.

4. Undertake Professional Development

Once registered, dentists are required to undertake continuous professional development (CPD) to maintain their registration. CPD activities help dentists stay updated with the latest advancements in dental science and technology and ensure they provide high-quality care to their patients. The DBA sets specific CPD requirements, including a minimum number of hours that must be completed each year.

5. Specialisation (Optional)

After gaining some experience as a general dentist, you may choose to specialize in a particular area of dentistry. Specialization requires additional training and education. Some of the recognized dental specialties in Australia include:

  • Orthodontics: Focuses on the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of dental and facial irregularities.
  • Periodontics: Deals with the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases affecting the gums and supporting structures of the teeth.
  • Pediatric Dentistry: Specializes in providing dental care for children, including infants and adolescents.
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery: Involves the surgical treatment of diseases, injuries, and defects of the oral and maxillofacial region.
  • Endodontics: Focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and injuries of the dental pulp and root tissues.

Specialization typically requires completing a postgraduate program and obtaining a specialist registration with the DBA.

6. Establishing a Practice

Once you are a registered dentist, you have the option to work in various settings, including private practice, public health clinics, hospitals, and educational institutions. Many dentists choose to establish their own private practice, which offers the opportunity for greater professional autonomy and financial rewards. Setting up a practice involves several steps:

A. Business Planning

Creating a detailed business plan is essential for establishing a successful dental practice. The plan should outline your goals, target market, budget, and marketing strategies. It should also include a financial plan that covers startup costs, operating expenses, and projected revenue.

B. Securing Financing

Starting a dental practice requires a significant financial investment. You may need to secure financing from banks or other financial institutions to cover the costs of purchasing equipment, leasing office space, and hiring staff. Having a solid business plan can help you obtain the necessary funding.

C. Choosing a Location

The location of your dental practice is crucial for attracting patients. Consider factors such as accessibility, visibility, and the demographics of the area. A location with high foot traffic and proximity to other healthcare providers can be advantageous.

D. Purchasing Equipment and Supplies

Investing in high-quality dental equipment and supplies is essential for providing excellent patient care. This includes dental chairs, imaging equipment, sterilization tools, and dental instruments. You will also need to set up an efficient practice management system to handle appointments, billing, and patient records.

E. Hiring Staff

Building a competent and dedicated team is vital for the success of your dental practice. This includes hiring dental assistants, hygienists, receptionists, and administrative staff. Providing ongoing training and fostering a positive work environment can help ensure your team delivers exceptional patient care.

F. Marketing Your Practice

Effective marketing strategies are essential for attracting and retaining patients. This includes creating a professional website, utilising social media, and implementing search engine optimisation (SEO) techniques to improve your online visibility. Building relationships with other healthcare providers and participating in community events can also help raise awareness of your practice and allow you to learn from others.

Engaging a dental marketing company with a strong reputation and google reviews will help you take charge of your business and grow.

7. Maintaining Professional Standards

As a dentist, maintaining high professional standards is crucial for building a successful and reputable practice. This involves adhering to the ethical guidelines set by the DBA, providing high-quality care, and continuously improving your skills and knowledge through CPD activities. Building strong relationships with your patients, colleagues, and the community is also important for your professional growth and success.

8. Challenges and Rewards

Becoming a dentist in Australia is a challenging yet rewarding journey. The challenges include the rigorous educational requirements, the competitive nature of dental programs, and the financial investment required to establish a practice. However, the rewards are significant, including the ability to make a positive impact on patients’ lives, the opportunity for professional growth, and the potential for a lucrative career.


Embarking on a career as a dentist in Australia requires dedication, hard work, and a commitment to lifelong learning. By following the steps outlined in this guide, aspiring dentists can navigate the educational pathway, obtain registration, and build a successful practice.

If you are interested in understanding a dentist salary, you can read an article to help determine the average salary for a dentist and average salary for a specialised dentist in Australia.

The journey may be demanding, but the fulfilment of helping patients achieve optimal oral health and the satisfaction of making a difference in their lives make it a worthwhile pursuit.

Disclaimer: The content provided on this website is intended for general informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice tailored to your specific needs and circumstances. Any reliance you place on the information provided in these blogs is, therefore, strictly at your own risk. We shall not be held responsible for any loss or damage resulting from the use of the information provided on this website.

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