Home' The Good Universities Guide : The Good Universities Guide 2017 Contents DENTISTRY 105
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
involves several years of experience and usually postgraduate
Dentistry is a clinically focused career, requiring an aptitude for
hands-on work and strengths in science and mathematics. It’s
also important to have people skills and a genuine desire to help
patients achieve optimal dental health. 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, 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.
Where to study
The dentistry field remains small but has expanded in recent
years, with the introduction of new dentistry schools across the
country. 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
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 and good performance in the
Undergraduate Medicine and Health Sciences Admission Test
(UMAT), as well as a range of prerequisite subjects and usually
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 called upon the
government to adequately fund university dental schools, place a
cap on student numbers to curb the oversupply of dentists, and
introduce programs to promote training in regional and remote
areas. It has also addressed the need for the focus of training to
move from restoration to prevention, and has called for programs
that provide a supportive environment for graduates to
consolidate the clinical and educational skills gained in
For qualified dentists seeking work, the Dental Relocation and
Infrastructure Support Scheme assists dentists to gain work in
regional and remote Australian communities through relocation
and infrastructure grants. See www.rhwa.org.au for more details.
FOR FURTHER HELP...
To compare the pros and cons of dentistry with other fields of
study, see the table on page 68 and institution profiles in
For more on jobs and careers in this field, see The Good
Careers Guide website at www.goodcareersguide.com.au.
For ratings of postgraduate dentistry courses, see The Good
Universities Guide website at
The student body ratings
THE STUDENT BODY
tuition costs for
The fees shown are for the whole course and approximate. Confirm with the
institution. For an explanation of abbreviations, see page 436.
GUG 2017.book Page 105 Friday, June 24, 2016 2:39 PM
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