What they do
Dental specialists are dentists who specialise and practise in a particular area of dentistry. They diagnose and treat diseases, injuries and irregularities of the teeth and structures of the mouth.
They can specialise in areas such as periodontics – preventing and treating diseases of the gums and supportive tissues; prosthodontics – restoring and replacing teeth and gums; orthodontics – diagnosing and treating badly aligned teeth and jaws; or paediatric dentistry – the treatment of dental diseases in infants and children.
They can also specialise in forensic dentistry, special needs dentistry, oral surgery, oral pathology or public health dentistry.
Dental specialists may work in private consultation practices or public dental centres, or both. They may work as part of a team with anaesthetists, dental technicians and dental assistants.
Dental specialists work in completely sterile rooms and must wear sterile and protective clothing to prevent infection to clients and themselves.
Tools and technologies
Dental specialists use a range of instruments that are common to dentistry as well as instruments that are used in their specialty. They may use pliers, probes, tweezers, scalpels, anaesthetic syringes, surgical scissors, mouth retractors, bone rongeurs, X-rays and mouth props. Depending on the procedure that they are performing, dental specialists must also wear sterile protective equipment such as gloves, masks and gowns to prevent contamination.
How do I become one?
Education and training
To become a dental specialist, you must first become a qualified dentist and then undertake further training in the speciality in which you wish to work.
To become a dentist, you need to study a degree in any discipline followed by a postgraduate degree in dentistry. All universities in Western Australia offer relevant undergraduate courses. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.
The University of Western Australia offers a four-year Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD). This is the only postgraduate degree in dental medicine in Western Australia. Contact the university for more information.
On completion of your dentistry degree, you must apply to the Royal Australasian College of Dental Surgeons (RACDS) to complete further training in the speciality in which you wish to work.
To be eligible for this specialist training, on completion of your dental degree, you must complete two years’ general dental practice.
Required registration and licensing
To work as a dental specialist in Western Australia, you will need to obtain specialist registration from the Dental Board of Australia. You will also have to obtain a National Police Certificate and may need to obtain a current Working with Children Check issued by the Department of Communities.