Dentists are healthcare professionals who treat and advise patients about their oral health (mouth and teeth). They treat patients through public health or private services, with the help of a team of dental assistants and nurses.
On a day-to-day basis, dentists assess and treat patients who come by for basic check-ups or treatments for their teeth and gums. They also help educate patients on how to maintain their oral health.
Graduates will find work opportunities in public hospitals, private healthcare groups as well as dental clinics in Singapore.
A dentist’s job scope involves a variety of dental procedures, and these include:
- Providing basic dental check-ups
- Diagnosing, treating, and preventing oral and dental disease and malformation
- Repairing and re-lining dentures
- Removing decay from patients’ teeth
- Filling cavities
- Extracting teeth
- Administering anaesthetics
- Improving dental aesthetics (e.g. through whitening, dental implants, braces etc.)
While some graduates may prefer doing general practice, they can choose to specialise in specific areas of dental work and become a Dental Specialist. There are currently seven recognised dental specialties in Singapore:
- Paediatric dentistry
- Dental public health
- Oral and maxillofacial surgery
However, graduates with goals to specialise in the above fields of dentistry must undergo specialist training while working on his or her speciality. They will then have to receive a specialist accreditation by the Dental Specialists Accreditation Board before they can become an official Dental Specialist.
Graduates with a dental qualification who wish to practise as a dentist will have to undergo a registration process at the Singapore Dental Council (SDC). The dental registration consists of three types – full registration, conditional registration and temporary registration.
Dentists under this category is allowed to practise independently in Singapore. Those who are registering for this category must hold a basic dental degree from Singapore or hold a dental qualification that is recognised by the SDC.
This category is for aspiring dentists with a dental degree from a university outside of Singapore. However, only graduates with international qualifications that are not lower in standing than a degree specified in the Schedule can register for this category.
Another criterion for conditional registration is that graduates from recognised schools listed in the Schedule must pass the relevant State/Regional Board licensing examination in the country where they received their basic dental degree.
They also have to be selected for employment in Singapore as a dentist in any hospital or dental practice approved by the Council. Moreover, they must pass a local qualifying examination as well.
Once graduates fulfil all criteria, they become dentists under conditional registration. Dentists practising under this category have to work for a specified period under the supervision of a fully registered dentist approved by the Council. The supervisor will have to also submit a supervisory report to the SDC every 6 months.
Dentists under conditional registration also have to adhere to other conditions laid down by the SDC and this is on a case-by-case basis. However, dentists under conditional registration can apply to convert to Full Registration after two years – subjected to SDC’s approval.
This category of registration is only for dentists who are practising for a short period of time. Applicants for this category must be in Singapore for the purpose of teaching, research or postgraduate study in dentistry under a training scheme approved by the SDC.
They must also possess dental knowledge, experience and skill which the CDC considers to be of international standing or to have special value to the people of Singapore.
In terms of soft skills and qualities, aspiring dentists should have the ability to quickly identify problems and determine the root cause in order to administer the right treatment for patients. Dentists should also be warm and welcoming with good bedside manners, so that patients are at ease when receiving their treatments.
Pros and cons
One of the pros of becoming a dentist is that there is a general, universal need for dentists to help patients of all ages and background. Almost everyone would need to see a dentist to get themselves checked, so long as they have a mouth and teeth. Not only that, dentists are generally paid quite well too.
However, as you can expect, much of a dentist’s job requires working with people and you may get difficult patients coming through your door. For instance, you will have to work on children’s teeth when they are crying, which can be difficult because some of them might even bite! Or you may get the occasional patients with bad breath or poor dental hygiene, which can sometimes put you off.