What is a Dentist?

The World Health Organization defines dentistry as "the science and art of preventing, diagnosing and treating diseases, injuries and malformations of the teeth, jaws and mouth".

Dentistry is an ethical profession and practising dentists are expected to place the welfare of their patients before any other consideration.

Members of the Australian Dental Association Victorian Branch Inc. agree to abide by a Code of Ethics adopted by the ADAVB Council after consultation with the membership.

What does a Dentist do?

dental treatment 2.JPGA dentist:

  • Treats oral disorders
  • Provides preventive treatment such as scaling, cleaning and fluoride therapy
  • Repairs teeth damaged by decay or trauma
  • Rebuilds tooth structures for functional or cosmetic reasons
  • Provides crowns and bridges
  • Treats diseases of the roots, gums and soft tissues of the mouth
  • Carries out various surgical procedures, from routine extractions to far more complex operations on the jaws and soft tissues

X-rays are used to detect abnormalities and plan treatment.

Malformation and misalignment of teeth and jaws are corrected by providing braces or other appliances.

The need to extract teeth has considerably decreased due to improved knowledge and education and the development of conservative techniques, materials and equipment.

A dentist also designs dentures by taking impressions, recording jaw relations, selecting colour and mould of teeth and correctly fitting dental appliances manufactured by dental technicians to dentists' prescriptions.

How do you enter the Dental Profession?

To practise dentistry in Australia you must have qualifications acceptable to the Dental Board of Australia. It is illegal to practise dentistry without registering with the Dental Board.

Address: Level 8, 111 Bourke Street, Melbourne 3000 

Postal address: PO Box 9958, Melbourne 3001

Phone: 1300 419 495  

e-mail: chair@dentalboard.gov.au

Website: www.dentalboard.gov.au 

What are the recognised Dental Specialties?

Designated special branches of dentistry are: 

  • Orthodontist – prevents and treats badly aligned teeth and jaws.
  • Oral surgeon and oral and maxillofacial surgeon – surgically treat injuries, abnormalities and diseases of the mouth and adjacent parts
  • Periodontist – prevents and treats diseases of the tissues which support the teeth, i.e. the gums and underlying bone
  • Endodontist – treats diseases and injuries to, and associated with the dental pulp, i.e. the soft tissues in the hollow core of the tooth.
  • Prosthodontist – restores and/or replaces teeth and their associated parts.
  • Paediatric dentist – treats children or adolescents who need special care because of behavioural problems, trauma, medical status or disability
  • Paedodontist  deals with the growth, development and treatment of children

Registered specialists in oral pathology and oral medicine, public health dentistry (community dentistry) and dento-maxillofacial radiology have more recently been incorporated into the list of registered specialists.

Most dentists in general practice provide a range of dental services. If you wish to consider using a specialist, you should consult a general dentist who will provide a referral and continue to manage your general dental needs.

What types of Dental Practice options are available?

Dentists may work in private practice, as a solo practitioner or as an assistant, an associate or a partner. Alternatively, a dentist may be employed in government service.

The majority of dentists work in private practice.

You may set up a practice or purchase an existing practice. Other ways of working in private practice include becoming:

  • An assistant dentist, which means you receive a salary from the owner of the practice
  • An associate dentist, where you and another (or more) join together to share the certain expenses, such as rent, while other expenses are paid separately and fees are collected separately
  • A partner where two or more practitioners share expenses and profits/losses according to an agreed proportion

There are limited positions available to dentists in the government service, which employs about 15% of dental practitioners in Australia. A salaried government dentist treats patients eligible for publicly funded dental treatment.

Each of the armed services maintains dental units that provide treatment for members of the service and in some circumstances their families.

On graduation, universities are sometimes able to provide short-term appointments as tutors or lecturers. Permanent appointments require post-graduate experience and higher degrees.

To be able to set up a specialist practice, you must be registered as a specialist with the appropriate dental board. In general, you are required to have a degree, diploma or award of high standing that testifies to your ability in the specialised area, plus demonstrate you have been practising exclusively, or with considerable emphasis in that field, for a reasonable time.

What training is required to become a Dentist?

University of Melbourne
Doctor of Dentistry

Offered seven years, full-time.

Prospective dental students should complete Year 12, including physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics and English, and achieve an adequate mark for university course admission.

Information on entry requirements for Victoria can be obtained from the Melbourne Dental School of the University of Melbourne.

711 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne, Victoria 3000

(Enter from Grattan Street)

Postal address: Melbourne Dental School, The University of Melbourne, Victoria 3010

Ph: (03) 9341 0275 

Fax: (03) 9341 0339

email: enquiries@dent.unimelb.edu.au

La Trobe University
Bachelor of Health Sciences in Dentistry/Master of Dentistry

Offered five years, full-time. 

Based at the School of Rural Health Bendigo campus with major teaching clinics in Bendigo, Mildura, Melton and Wodonga.

Main School of Rural Health campus: Edwards Road, Floral Hill, Bendigo, 3550
Postal address: La Trobe University, PO Box 199, Bendigo, Victoria, 3552
email: bendigo@latrobe.edu.au

Learn more. 

Contact the School of Rural Health.

Call: 1300 135 045


Grants and scholarships

Learn about dental study grants and scholarships to assist eligible students.

Federal ADA - Dental Team - Dentist
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