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A considered career choice: 5 universities guiding the next generation of dental experts

“For he who has health has hope: and he who has hope, has everything.” – Owen Arthur

All of us need a dentist at some point. A lot us are lucky and only need the odd filling here and there; some of us need more serious treatment like a crown or dental implant. Some are really unfortunate, living countries that lack proper dental healthcare.

But due to this need to protect our pearly whites, demand will only continue to grow with professionals required everywhere around the globe.

Those that pursue a life in dentistry can look forward to a well-compensated career in many countries. Australia currently offers an average annual salary for dentists of $73,600, and dental specialists are normally among the top earners in medicine and surpass almost every other professional. Canada pays practicing dentists an average annual salary of $81,800, and despite dentistry being slower to develop here than in other countries in Europe, Canada can now boast more than 16,000 practicing dentists.

But the highest paid salaries for dentists across the globe can be found in the United States, where the average annual salary is $146,340, as well as in Spain, where dentists earn a whopping average salary of $176,000.

“Not only does the salary almost double that of Switzerland,” notes the Dental Social Network, DentaGama, “but the country has relatively low tax and lower cost of living. When it comes to money, this is obviously the best country to practice dentistry in.”

Those looking to attain a qualification in dentistry are guaranteed to receive an education that places them in a steady and rewarding career. But a degree in this field doesn’t necessarily restrict students to dentistry, with graduates going on to become science writers, health service managers, teachers, laboratory technicians and many more options.

Graduates can find themselves working or running a general practice, working in hospitals, global health charities, the armed forces, universities and many other establishments. “A few graduates pursue opportunities outside dentistry in industries such as business, finance, marketing, education and sales,” explains Prospects UK.

Whatever career choice is desired through a degree in dentistry, students can be assured that they will find ready employment post-graduation. Since there is an ever-growing need for these skilled professionals, it’s no surprise to find that 97 percent of graduates in the UK alone find work as dental practitioners.

Choosing where to study is one of the most important decisions that dentistry students have to face. Here, we’ve put together a list of five universities that deliver a world-class education, and set you on the path to a successful career.

UNC SCHOOL OF DENTISTRY, THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA AT CHAPEL HILL – USA

Established in 1950, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Dentistry was the first dental school to be formed in North Carolina, and remained this way for 61 years.

The school’s physical footprint is one of the largest in the United States, totalling just shy of 500,000 gross square feet and encompassing four buildings.

“It is located within a dynamic health science campus that includes the schools of medicine, nursing, pharmacy and public health, and contributes to the spirit of collaboration among the health sciences at Carolina,” the website explains.

Graduates of the school have gone on to demonstrate comprehensive knowledge and preparation in all phases of dental practice, graduate education, research, service and teaching.

Among its 17 academic offerings, the school runs a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) program, two allied dental health programs and 14 advanced education programs.

“At the UNC School of Dentistry, you will see how individual passions fuel a collective purpose where innovation, creativity and collaboration continually move us “beyond excellence” while transforming the lives of our patients, students, alumni, faculty, and staff,” says Scott S. De Rossi, Dean of the school.

SCHOOL OF DENTISTRY, UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN – USA

The University of Michigan School of Dentistry is one of the nation’s leading dental schools engaged in oral healthcare, education, research, patient care, and community service. There is a close-knit community feel on-campus, with faculty, staff and students alike taking great pride in the school and its accomplishments.

The culturally-rich and community-like atmosphere generated on-campus doesn’t just stay on-campus, with the Global Initiatives program paired with students and staff striving to improve oral health around the world. This is accomplished by travelling to select countries each year to work and train with local doctors and patients.

Students from the school have so far travelled to many different countries like Guatemala, Mexico, Ethiopia, Brazil, Greece and Kenya.

“Experiencing dentistry through the Brazilian culture profoundly enriched my professional and personal life allowing me to become a culturally competent dental professional,” says Cassandra Wieckhorst, a program participant.

DENTAL INSTITUTE, KING’S COLLEGE LONDON – UK

Set in the bustling capital of London, the Dental Institute at King’s is the largest dental training school in the UK. “Kings is a highly respected teaching institution for dentistry, ranking first in Europe and fourth in the world,” the faculty website notes.

Joining the Dental Institute at King’s means becoming part of a cohort that has access to three teaching hospitals, so students here benefit from access to a wide range of dental-specific activities and events, ranging from professional and academic to the sporting and social. King’s students build up a network of friendships and contacts that will sustain them through their students and throughout their career.

“Our ambition, as that of King’s, is to deliver impact locally, nationally and globally through discovery, innovation and education that ultimately leads to tangible improvements in patient care, population health and societal wellbeing,” says Professor Mike Curtis, the Institute’s Executive Dean.

King’s offers a plethora of programmes ranging from short courses to undergraduate and postgraduate. With such dynamic variety on offer, King’s is sure to have the right qualification for anyone aspiring to get into the dentistry field.

FACULTY OF DENTISTRY, UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (UBC) – CANADA

For 50+ years, the Faculty of Dentistry at ubc has produced well educated, culturally-enlightened graduates. The faculty has been instrumental to advances in oral health sciences since it was formed, and continues to make significant contributions to the profession’s body of knowledge through its active faculty research, magnificent curriculum and “the most technologically advanced dental clinic in the world” – the Nobel BioCare Oral Health Care Centre.

The school is committed to serving dental professionals and the larger community through outreach and community development efforts. The faculty has a healthy track record for developing and implementing new community programs to serve individuals with limited/restricted access to dental care, as well as providing invaluable experiences for students.

With a host of programs available to those looking to start or further their dentistry education, UBC is a really great choice for those hoping to enter the field.

BRISTOL DENTAL SCHOOL, UNIVERSITY OF BRISTOL – UK

Part of the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Bristol, the Bristol Dental School has been training Dental Surgeons since 1906, and Dental Care professionals since 1949.

“Our strengths are in equipping students with a core of appropriate knowledge, understanding and kills relevant to clinical dental practice in the 21st century,” the faculty website states.

Following the introduction of the revised BDS Program in 2006 and a £15 million refurbishment project in 2007, the school was formerly rated as the top Dental School in the UK in the 2009 and 2010 national Student Survey.

Most graduates of the school go on to work as self-employed practitioners in general practice, either through the National Health Service or privately, while others have gone on to provide dental services in hospitals, community settings, or the armed forces.

*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International

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