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What qualifications should I look for with a (UK) dentist?



Sep 21, 2016
My husband recently asked me if my dentist is any good..

She has a Postgraduate Diploma in general dentistry with distinction.. Should I be looking for someone with more qualifications than that!??

(I've honestly (perhaps naively) rarely looked into that and gone by how they are with me, and reviews)
Hi Nicci,

I believe with a diploma in dentistry, your dentist is allowed to practice dentistry and knows how to do general stuff such as fillings, extractions and root canals. I also believe that dentistry is one of the areas where all practicioners are required and usually interested to get a certain amount of extra trainig a year to maintain the licence so they usually do a lot of extra training anyway.

The question is what exactly are you (or your husband) looking for / what do you (your husband) need them to be particularly good at?
Hi Nicci,

I actually had this conversation with Lincoln (aka @drhirst) a little while ago, and basically, his take was that formal qualifications don't necessarily matter all that much, but that enthusiasm for and a keen interest in dentistry is what's really important. Sometimes, this translates into additional qualifications, but not always. There are lots of great dentists who are not on any speciality register, but who follow and read up on the latest developments and take additional courses in the fields they're interested in. This doesn't necessarily mean they'll have extra letters behind their name.

As Enarete hinted at, it also depends on what exactly you're looking for in a dentist, and at what level (regular check-ups and the occasional filling can be a different kettle of fish compared to someone who has very extensive and complex needs). Some specialities in dentistry are periodontics (gum problems), endodontics (root canals), and prosthodontics (repairing teeth and replacing missing teeth). For example, if you need root canal treatment on a molar tooth, then an endodontist would be the specialist of choice. If you're wanting the very best restorations or options for replacing missing teeth, then someone with additional qualifications in restorative dentistry/prosthodontics/implantology (depending on your needs) would be a good choice. If your main problem is with your gums, then someone who is a specialist in periodontics would be good. So it all depends on your situation, your expectations, and your aims! (and, of course, finances can be a major factor, seeing how specialists tend to charge more for their time).

When it comes to patient comfort, then obviously, pain management plays a huge part. It's pretty hard to do precision work (which a lot of dentistry is) on a person who's squirming because they're in pain. So I suppose any dentist who is truly into delivering the best possible care will have patient comfort as a top priority. This includes knowing about and being able to use a variety of injection techniques and agents - not a "one size fits all" approach to those people who may be more difficult to numb. Of course, any dentist who's truly interested in helping anxious patients will also be motivated by compassion as well as just by the somewhat self-serving motive of being able to do quality work... In reality, any dentist can run into difficulties with numbing, but the key is that they don't ignore your discomfort and try hard to find solutions (e.g. using more or a different anaesthetic, or using additional or different numbing techniques).

We've put together a list of things to look out for when it comes to finding a high-quality dentist here:

Personally, I feel that some of the key things to look out for are 1. compassion, 2. being ethical, and 3. the will and desire to do their best (ethics can be a particularly tough one to judge for a layperson, so I suppose one has to concentrate on 1. and 3.). A natural aptitude (esp. dexterity) helps as well ?

Do you think it would be useful to put together a list of qualifications and their meaning?
Yup, Letsconnect has nailed it. I can add nothing to that, other than it is important to find someone you have guenuine rapport with. It really helps and are no recongnised qualifictions for that.