There is no short answer to “how long does it take to become a dentist”! Let’s explore the different routes it takes to complete your dental course:
The most common route: 5 YEAR BDS
The most common route of becoming a dentist is through a conventional BDS (Bachelor of Dental Surgery) degree. Applicants typically enter this course following Higher Education (normally A-levels), but there is no strict rule that prevents applicants applying many years after their High Education qualifications.
Following entry onto the course, a standard 5 year structure is followed.
If students fail a year, they often have to resit the entire year. This would make their course 6 years. If they fail two years, they are normally removed from the course without graduating as a dentist.
So how long does it take to become a dentist? The normal (and fastest) route is 5 years.
(NB. Leeds offer the UK’s only joint Master and Bachelor Dentistry degree, but it is also 5 years.)
Nearly all Dental Schools offer dental students the opportunity to intercalate their degree. This means that in the middle of their dental degree, they will have the opportunity to take a year out of dentistry to complete another degree. You will still be based in and around the Dental School, but will be working on research and biological sciences (normally).
This Intercalated Year is one additional year, making your total course 6 years of study, but you graduate with 2 degrees!
Gateway to Dentistry/Pre-Dental Year
Some students may not meet the entry requirements for the 5 year BDS course. Instead, one option is a 6 year course which includes a “Gateway to Dentistry” or “Pre-Dental” year. This year strengthens your understanding and knowledge in biology and chemistry, which will be crucial for dentistry.
The course will be offered to you if you did not take the necessary A-levels required for Dentistry (biology and chemistry), or if you had life circumstances that stopped you from achieving your best grades at Higher Education.
Once you pass the “Pre-Dental” year, you will enter the regular BDS course, which is a further 5 years.
Not all Dental Schools offer the 6 year course with a “Pre-Dental” year, so it’s very important to consult with our Universities Package to find out which Schools are right for you.
Graduate Entry Degree
These courses enable graduates with honours degrees in science subjects, and healthcare professionals with a degree, to study for a BDS. How long does it take to become a dentist on this pathway? These courses are commonly four years long.
Some students opt to continue their education following graduating as a dentist. There are specific Dental Schools that run post-graduate courses only, such as UCL Eastman Dental Institute, or applicants can return to one of the 16 Dental Schools that accept undergraduates, which teach both undergraduates and post-graduates in separate courses.
These additional courses can take up to a further 6 years, depending on the speciality.
Equally, dentists may choose to explore maxillofacial surgery, which would require a medical degree in addition to a dental one.
So how long does it take to become a dentist in the UK? It varies, but between 4-6 years, on average
Become A Dentist