Home' The Good Universities Guide : The Good Universities Guide 2016 Contents What you're in for
Dentistry is a small, well-known and high-status profession. In
general practice, dentists perform tasks associated with
diagnosing, treating and preventing disease and abnormalities of
the teeth, gums and mouth. An undergraduate degree gets you
this far, being the main requirement for registration in all states
and territories. Dentists can also specialise in a number of areas,
earning titles ranging from the familiar (such as orthodontist and
oral surgeon) to the unusual (periodontist and prosthodontist) and
the glamorous (forensic odontologist). Becoming a specialist
usually involves not only postgraduate study but also some years
Dentistry is a clinically focused career, requiring an aptitude for
hands-on work and strengths in science and mathematics. Most
dentists work in private practice, although there are opportunities
for employment in government services and the Defence Force.
In recent years there has been growing recognition and more
education options for allied oral health professionals such as
dental hygienists and dental therapists (see the health services
and support profile), leading to changes in the roles of dentists
themselves, particularly those in general practice.
For more information about dentistry careers, see the Australian
Dental Association website at www.ada.org.au and the Dental
Board of Australia website at www.dentalboard.gov.au.
If you are interested in this field you might also consider
medicine, health services and support, rehabilitation or nursing.
Courses and specialisations
Course options include graduate entry programs and pre-
dentistry degrees, which, once completed, are followed by a
postgraduate course before registration. This adoption of the US
model, where undergraduates enter a general pre-professional
degree and then transfer to a postgraduate qualification in their
professional area, has the potential to become more common in
the future. As is often the case with professional fields of study,
there is little variation in the content and structure of the degrees
in this field, as they must all satisfy similar criteria to be accredited
by registration authorities. In dentistry, the trend is usually to
begin the course with some foundation science, progressing to
applied dental science in the middle years, followed by a final
year (or two) spent mostly in clinical placements.
The student body and graduate ratings
THE STUDENT BODY GRADUATE RATINGS
Total students % International % Domestic Estimated average Teaching quality Generic skills
students schoolleavers tuition costs for
Where to study
The dentistry field remains small but is expanding, with the
introduction of new dentistry schools in recent years, including
some in regional areas to cater for the demand for dentists in
country Australia. Institutions offering dentistry courses have their
own clinical facilities for practical learning, including fully
operational clinics (which are open to the public in some cases).
When researching courses, be sure to check out the quality of
facilities on offer.
In addition, all students in their last semester or year should be in
placements out in the community.
It is worth noting that all courses are hard to get into and are also
quite long (around five years). Admission to all courses generally
requires a high ATAR as well as good performance in the
Undergraduate Medicine and Health Sciences Admission Test
(UMAT), adding to a range of prerequisite subjects and usually an
To compare entry difficulty at different institutions, see the 'How
tough is it to get in?' tables in Section 4.
The Australian Dental Association (ADA) has revealed that the
forecasted shortage of dentists may be no more than a myth,
noting that the number of graduates has increased significantly in
recent years. The introduction of new dental schools and
increases in student intakes across the board mean that newly
registered dentists are exceeding demand. The ADA has called
on the government to implement a forward-looking plan to deal
with these increased numbers and find solutions to ensure that
the most qualified practitioners are working in the areas of
greatest need. The association has also raised the registration of
overseas-trained dentists as an issue contributing to lower
employment rates, urging governments to conduct a health
workforce study that would ensure investment into training is
being made accordingly.
For qualified dentists seeking work, the Dental Relocation and
Infrastructure Support Scheme assists dentists to gain work in
regional and remote Australian communities. See www.rhwa.org.au
for more details.
The fees shown are for the whole course and are approximate. Confirm with the institution concerned. For an explanation of abbreviations, see page 424.
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