Dental Science (B.Dent.Sc)
On successful completion of the five-year Dental Science undergraduate programme, dental graduates must be capable of independently providing a wide range of oral healthcare for adults and children including those with special needs.
Trinity College Dublin confers the degree Bachelor of Dental Science that entitles the graduate to register as a dentist on the Register of the Dental Council of Ireland (www.dentalcouncil.ie). Dental Science graduates who are EU citizens are entitled to register with the regulatory bodies of other countries in the European Union which fulfil the Sectoral Directives as they relate to the education and training of dentists.
The curriculum of the Dental Science programme is based around problem-based learning, which is complemented by considerable emphasis on clinical competence in primary oral health care based on appropriate, prioritised and scientifically acceptable treatment methods. Students commence treating (under supervision) their own patients in the second year and by the fifth year are expected to have completed a wide range of treatments similar to those provided in general dental practice.
Clinical training in dentistry requires the application of a wide range of knowledge and experience in an integrated manner to the provision oral health care for patients. The curriculum design uses integration of subjects across the years and learning in one year may be revisited in a subsequent year. The result is that learning from one module may be prerequisite to a subsequent module in the same or a later year or be complemented by another in the same year, as well as being applicable across all areas of clinical dental practice.
The aims of the first year are to commence the personal and professional development of the dental student as preparation for their role as a health care professional and to develop an understanding of the relevance of the physical sciences in underpinning various aspects of clinical practice and to emphasize the importance of the basic biomedical sciences in the context of understanding human growth, development, adaption and homeostasis.
During the second year students commence their training in clinical dentistry, including cross infection control in clinical practice, history taking, examination of patients and the preventive and operative management of dental caries, non-carious tooth substance loss and periodontal disease. Students also learn about physiology, oral physiology and pathology, all of which are of relevance to dental practice. In the second year students are assigned a Clinical Academic Advisor (a senior full time clinical academic member of staff) who will mentor them through the remaining fours year of the programme. Administrative support is provided by the Dental Studies Team.
On successful completion of the third year it is expected that students will be competent in the provision of a limited range of primary dental care under supervision. As in the 1st and 2nd year, students in the 3rd year are provided with learning opportunities through problem-based learning tutorials, lectures, skills laboratory courses, clinical treatment sessions, external placements in acute hospitals and in the HSE dental services for Special Care Dentistry. The subject areas included in the 3rd year are: Dental Material Science, Dental Radiology, Edentulous state, Human Diseases, Fixed and Removable Prosthodontics, Integrated Dental Care, Occlusion and Function, Periodontology, Pharmacology and Special Care Dentistry.
On completion of the fourth year it is expected that students are competent in a wide range of primary dental care although clearly still to acquire some competences, the experience and the integrated application of clinical knowledge and wisdom expected of a practising dentist.
The modules in year four are: Child Dental Health, Advanced Restorative Dentistry, Comprehensive Patient Care, Public Dental Health, Oral Medicine, Oral Surgery and Oral & Dental Pathology.
The aim of the fifth dental year is to complete the clinical training of a dental practitioner to the level where s/he is safe to carry out the full range of dentistry independently. Implicit in this is the fulfilment of EU directives and guidelines in respect of clinical competences as well as the possession of the core knowledge required for such competences.
A Day in the Life of a Dental Science Student
In first year a dental science student will be around campus with lectures and labs in physics and chemistry. Lectures won’t last all day but can start at nine in the morning and continue until five, with plenty of breaks. There are also PBL tutorials three times a week that last 2 hours each. Anatomy of the head and neck is taught both through lectures and practical demonstrations on cadavers, not for the squeamish! At least at the end of this year there is a long summer holiday, the only one!
During second year, a lot more time is spent in the dental hospital teaching laboratory with up to 3 sessions a week learning the basic dental skills and every Monday afternoon is spent in the clinics working in pairs on patients. Students cannot afford to miss any sessions as the pace is fast and there is a lot to take in.
In third year there are many more clinics where you’ll be treating real patients 2-3 times per week and also learning more advanced skills in the lab. Learning how to organise and manage patients is a skill that is picked up very quickly!
Fourth and fifth years are really “hands-on”. Expect to be in at 8:30 most mornings and it doesn’t end at five either. Some time is spent booking patients appointment and coordinating their treatments. You’re busy restoring patient’s mouths with dentures, implants, crowns, bridges etc. every day. Time is also spent in theatre assisting in operations and in various other clinics which are usually pretty interesting. There are various lectures and courses to attend and also a dissertation in final year to keep you busy, before even considering studying for the final exams which start in mid April and continue in May and early June.
Overall dentistry is a tough and very busy but satisfying and rewarding course.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does a dentist do?
Dentists provide oral and dental health care for patients and communities. The dentist is head of the Dental Team which consists of dentists, (who may be specialists or general dentists) dental hygienists, dental nurses, clinical dental technicians and dental technicians. Dentistry has changed a lot in recent years with more emphasis on preventing disease as well as new minimally invasive methods and materials for restoring teeth. Another major development is the use of dental implants which have revolutionised the replacement of missing teeth.
What are the career prospects?
There is a wide range of career options open to a qualified dentist. New graduates usually find themselves deciding whether to work in general dental practice providing both state funded or private dental care or in the salaried public dental service. Many graduates choose to continue their education with the aim of becoming a specialist in one area within dentistry. One point to note is that after qualifying there is no mandatory “intern year”, unlike medicine, though some graduates undertake Vocational Training either in Ireland or the UK. The course is very practical throughout with lots of hands-on experience treating patients. Dentistry does give scope to work and travel worldwide (although some countries such as the US require that an examination is passed before a dentist qualified from Ireland may practice). Citizens of the EU who graduate from an EU dental school may practice anywhere in the EU and there is currently demand for dentists all over Europe.
2011 Graduate B.Dent.Sc
I graduated in June 2011 with a B.Dent.Sc and I am currently working on the UK Dental Foundation Scheme in Essex and I am very much enjoying the experience. I am so grateful for the help of hospital staff throughout my training as an undergraduate. They were always willing to give help and advice when I needed it. From my own experience and from speaking with other members of my class in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland it is clear that the training we received is of the highest quality. For this I believe that all the staff of the Dublin Dental University Hospital deserve credit.
I graduated in June 2011 and have been working in London as a VT since August of the same year. Although Dental Science required hard work, determination and discipline, the rationale and reasoning behind everything we had to do became much clearer as I went along and certainly once I finished. I can now say it was all worth it! Having spoken with others from my class who have also gone into VT in Belfast or Edinburgh or Devon even, we all agree that the quality of education we received from you was of a VERY high standard! The depth of knowledge, range of skills and especially the amount of hands on clinical experience in all aspects of clinical dentistry we received from DDUH certainly surpasses many who studied at various other ‘big name’ universities. My adviser in London who sits on the interview panels said to me on more than one occasion that in his experience, DDUH/Trinity graduates have excellent ‘clinical knowledge’ and our ‘overall professionalism and manner in which we conduct ourselves’ is indicative of our excellent undergraduate training. I feel that on the whole I was certainly very well prepared for the transition from college to practice and I know many of my class feel the same.
I qualified as a dental surgeon with first class honours from Trinity College, Dublin in 2000. Following a year as Junior House Officer in the Dublin Dental University Hospital, I worked in private practice for a number of years in Dublin. During this time I continued to work part-time in the Dental Hospital as a clinical supervisor. I received my MFD from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland in 2004. In 2009, I completed a 3 year Doctorate degree in Paediatric Dentistry (D. Ch. Dent.) in the TCD, graduating with first class honours. I am currently working in practice limited to Paediatric Dentistry and as a part time clinical teacher in the DDUH.
Caoimhin MacGiolla Phadraig
Special Care Dentistry
I graduated from TCD in 2002. Since then I worked in private practice in the UK, New Zealand and Ireland. I also worked in the Health Services Executive as a dental surgeon, the University of Otago, New Zealand as a full time tutor and the Dublin Dental University Hospital as a Senior House Officer. I recently completed a three year full time taught doctorate in Special Care Dentistry (D. Ch. Dent.) in TCD, graduating with first class honours. I currently work as a lecturer in Public Dental Health (Disability Studies) and in a practice limited to Special Care Dentistry. My main areas of research interest are: oral health promotion for people with intellectual disability, service delivery to people with disabilities and the philosophy of disability and oral health
Postgraduate student in Oral Surgery
I graduated from TCD in 1988 and then spent 5 years working in a busy National Health Service practice in the UK. After two more years working in private practice and as a health board dentist in Dublin, I spent a year working in Trinidad in a non-governmental organisation, running a dental practice and training dental nurses.
On my return, I took over a busy general practice in West Dublin and developed it over a ten year period. During this time, it went from a single handed practice to a two operator practice in premises newly fitted out. At a later stage the practice became paperless with practice management software and digitised x-rays. With a view to obtaining a place on the three years full time Oral Surgery D.Ch.Dent specialist training programme in the TCD, I sold the practice in 2006 and returned to hospital-based dentistry, working as an oral and maxillofacial Senior House Officer in Sheffield for one year. I managed to get my first scientific journal article published during this time in the Journal of the Irish Dental Association. I followed this with a year as an Oral Surgery Senior House Officer in the Dublin Dental University Hospital. I had two more journal articles published in this period. I managed to gain a place on the Oral Surgery training programme, starting in September 2009. I have now completed one year and had my fourth article published recently.
Postgraduate students in Prosthodontics
After qualifying as a dental surgeon from TCD in 2006, I went on to work in general practice for eighteen months before returning to Dublin to take up a Senior House Officer position in Restorative Dentistry. During this year I had the opportunity to work in three Dublin prisons, provide on-call and accident and emergency services as well as work under the guidance and supervision of five consultant prosthodontists. In 2008 I completed Membership of the Faculty of Dentistry examinations in the Royal College of Surgeons (Ireland) and applied to the postgraduate doctorate (D. Ch. Dent) programme in Prosthodontics. I commenced my training in 2009.
How to apply:
Check out the TCD Prospectus for entry requirements www.tcd.ie/courses/undergraduate/az/course.php?id=DUBDE-DENS-1F09
chool leavers should apply through the C.A.O. www.cao.ie/
Mature students (over 23 years) must apply through the CAO and directly to the Admissions Office in Trinity College: www.tcd.ie/Admissions/undergraduate/apply/eu/mature/