Dentists diagnose and treat oral disorders through preventive treatments or through repair. Dentists are trained to treat teeth, gums and soft tissues of the mouth, and can carry out a range of oral surgical procedures. Dentists may also specialize in different fields of dentistry to become orthdontists, oral and maxillofacial surgeons, periodontists, endodontists, prosthodontists, paediatric dentists or practitioners in special needs dentistry. Dentistry is a very ‘hands on’ clinical area of health, as during day-to-day practice a dentist may undertake a variety of tasks including examining mouths, taking x-rays, cleaning teeth, repairing decayed and broken teeth with fillings, extracting and replacing teeth, applying anaesthetics, performing surgical operations, and designing, constructing and fitting dentures, crowns and bridges. Dentists can work in both private practice and for the public dental health system. Dentists employed in the public sector work in schools, universities, community health centres, mobile dental vans, hospitals and institutions such as residential care facilities and custodial settings. Dentists can also be employed in non-clinical roles such as research, management, education and policy development. (Source: Victorian Government Health Information)
Dentists complete a five-year undergraduate degree, a Bachelor of Dental Science. The current prerequisite VCE subjects include physics, chemistry, maths methods or specialist maths and English. Dental students learn the manual and theoretical skills needed for contemporary dental practice. Areas of study include anatomy, biology, chemistry, microbiology, pathology, pharmacology and neuroscience. Prospective students must undertake the Undergraduate Medicine and Health Sciences Admissions Test (UMAT).