Dentistry vs Medicine

Dentistry and Medicine are both fulfilling and well respected careers, but which is better (if either one is) and what one should you pursue?

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Dentistry or Medicine?

Being conflicted between a Dentistry or Medicine degree might seem peculiar but with overlap between the two subjects it may not be as weird as it first seems.

Both careers have a strong basis in science, require knowledge of physiology, depend on interacting with patients and involves applying problem-solving skills.

With this in mind, it can be difficult to decide whether to study Dentistry or to study Medicine.

Is Dentistry Or Medicine A Better Career?

Let’s start with the bigger picture, and ultimately the reason you are deciding between the two degrees in the first place – which is the better career overall, Dentistry or Medicine?

This is not a straightforward question to ask, and truly you can’t go wrong by pursuing either of them.

First, let’s look at the similarities between the two:

However, there are some significant differences, which are what might sway your decision in either direction:

The Pros and Cons of Dentistry and Medicine

Once you have grasped what makes Dentistry and Medicine similar and yet so different thinking about the major pros and cons of each would be the next place to go.

 DentistryMedicine
Pros– Excellent work life balance
– Opportunity to start your own business
– Shorter training
– “More prestigious”
– Varied
– Diverse specialisms
Cons– Competitive
– Less variation
– Longer training
– Lower initial earnings

Based on the above if you are looking to be more practical, independent, and entrepreneurial then Dentistry would be the option for you. However, if working in a team, being a specialist and having a greater impact on patient’s lives appeals to you when Medicine is the way to go.

Whether you decide on Dentistry or Medicine secure your place with our Complete Bundle.

Our Complete Bundle provides support for your Personal Statement, UCAT, BMAT and Interview and guides you to a successful application.

With our Complete Bundle, we guarantee that you will get at least one offer to study Dentistry or Medicine, or your money back.

How Much Do Doctors And Dentists Make In The UK?

This will obviously be the other big question on your mind when it comes to deciding between Dentistry and Medicine.

In terms of lifetime earning potential, due to the shorter training periods, Dentists earn more in the UK than Doctors.

Let’s take a closer look as to why:

Meanwhile, compare this to the earnings of UK doctors:

Although, considering many consultant doctors also work in the private section there is not a huge difference between potential earnings, but you could argue Dentistry has the slight advantage.

Dental or Medical School – Which Is Harder To Get Into?

Before you get the chance to pursue your dream career, there is the question of getting into university and building the foundations required to kickstart your career.

When we look at the numbers it is clear to see that Dental School is more difficult to get into than Medical School. There are 44 Medical Schools in the UK compared to only 16 Dental Schools offering undergraduate courses.

As a result of these fewer places on offer, Dental applicants have to battle a 12:1 competition ratio compared to an average of 3:1 for Medical School.

If we look at the initial intake of Medical and Dental students in the UK for the academic year 2021-22 we can see just how stark this difference is.

Medical intake10,543
Dental intake1.109

From this it is clear to see that it is far more competitive to get into Dental School.

Entry Requirements for Dentistry vs Medicine

The admissions requirements into Dental and Medical Schools in the UK are fairly similar, with neither being outright easier.

Both Dentistry and Medicine require you to submit a personal statement, sit an admission test (the UCAT or BMAT depending on where you’re applying), and attend an interview.

The subject requirements are also comparable with the general expectation being AAA in at least three A-Levels, typically these being Chemistry and/or Biology, and a third subject from Mathematics or Physics. Though of course do ensure to check with the Dental or Medical School you are applying to as this may differ.

Length of Studies for Dentistry and Medicine

There is a lot of similarity between Dentistry and Medicine at university level. Both are rigorous subjects where learning the core Sciences is essential. They also involve a lot of practical study.

In terms of how long you’ll spend at Dental or Medical School, it is very comparable between the two.

For Medicine, depending on where you apply to you should expect to spend anywhere from 4.5 years to 6 years on your course. Meanwhile, all Dental courses last for 5 years.

Gateway years are available for both courses which will extend studies by a year. Gateway years are intended for people who haven’t quite met the entry requirements and potentially come from a disadvantaged background.

Once university studies have been completed this is where Dentistry and Medicine truly begin to diverge.

Here’s how the path to becoming a fully-qualified Dentist in the UK looks:

  • Five-year Dentistry degree
  • One or two years of supervised practice
  • Minimum of 250 hours Continuing Professional Development training every five years

And as for becoming a Doctor in the UK:

  • Four and half to 6 years Medicine degree
  • Two-year foundation programme
  • Speciality training which lasts a minimum of three years – this is based off of training to be a GP, if someone was to specialise as a Gastroenterologist, for example, it is a minimum of seven years

As you can see, thinking about how long you want to be in training is hugely important when it comes to deciding between Dentistry and Medicine.

Do Dentists Know As Much As Doctors?

Dentists and doctors are both extremely knowledgeable about their respective fields – although the nature of their knowledge may differ.

A doctor may have far more specialised knowledge regarding only one particular are of Medicine, whereas a dentist will often retain a broader skillset as part of their practice.

On the whole, it would be fair to say doctors and dentists are both equally knowledgeable about their respective fields. It is the nature of their knowledge that’s different.

When you first graduate from Medical School, you can work literally anywhere. Subsequently, it becomes only either medicine or surgery, with the final result being you’re an expert in only one field, with the final result being you’re an expert in only one field of either medicine or surgery.

But this does mean you can lose a lot of knowledge about things that aren’t part of your speciality.

Dentists on the other hand generally retain a wider scope of practice throughout their careers.

Although you can still specialise as a dentist, a general dentist can broadly perform the same procedures as a specialist – they just won’t have the same expertise in them.

From this it could be argued dentists often actually retain a broader knowledge base whereas doctors become super specialised in one particular are to the detriment of their general medicine knowledge.

What Skills do You Need to be a Doctor or a Dentist?

Aside from good knowledge of the sciences, both professions are dependent on the following skills:

  • Effective communication
  • Leadership
  • Bedside manner
  • Problem-solving and critical thinking

Where Dentistry is largely dependent on things like dexterity, precision and eyesight to do a lot of hands-on work, some areas of Medicine call on similar skills.

The role of a doctor is perhaps more diverse though due to the amount of specialisms, and because of that you can expect to pick up more skills in Medicine than the average dentist would.

Need help with your Dental/Medical School application?

Our Complete Bundle provides support for your Personal Statement, UCAT, BMAT and Interview and guides you to a successful application.

With our Complete Bundle, we guarantee that you will get at least one offer to study Dentistry or Medicine, or your money back.

Dentistry vs Medicine: Work-Life Balance

Dentistry is usually considered to be the better lifestyle choice between the two jobs. That’s usually because the work is more specific, with less need for unsociable working hours.

One thing to think about however is that it is entirely possible to have a good work-life balance in Medicine too. Picking a “lifestyle speciality” like dermatology and psychiatry and you can avoid a lot of the late and weekend shifts that put so many people off.

As well, becoming a GP is another way to strike a healthy work-life balance in Medicine on par with Dentistry.

Think about how each job would fit with the other aims you have in life.

Are Dentists As Respected As Doctors?

Doctors are often more respected than dentists.

The reason for this lies in the public’s perception of dentists: as people who carry out painful procedures and are only motivated by money.

Doctors, on the other hand are seen as caring professionals who aim to improve the lives of their patients.

Part of this is due to the difference in how dental and medical care are delivered in the UK. A doctor in the NHS never has to ask a patient to cough up money for the aliment they just diagnosed.

After your trip to the dentist though, you often have to foot a bill for the pleasure of having someone poking around in your mouth.

Doctors also benefit greatly from patients’ rose-tinted glasses.

Minor illnesses will often get better with just a bit of time. But if they were given some treatment by a doctor while unwell, then the doctor gets all the credit.

With something like toothache, it often will only get worse and worse until you get the treatment you need. Once you’ve managed to get an appointment and paid for your treatment the dentist who fixed the issues doesn’t get the credit they deserve.

Dentistry is an incredibly desirable and respected career. However, doctors’ benefit from a bit of psychology that elevates them in the view of the general public.

Conclusion

If you’re still undecided as to whether you wish to pursue Dentistry or Medicine, try to see if you can shadow both a doctor and a dentist (if you are in the position to do so).

By doing this it will help give you more insight into the nature and role of each career and which one would be the best fit for you.

Either way, you are deciding between two well-respected careers that will set you for a long and successful career.

Ultimately, there is no right or wrong answer to this question. What matters is what interests you and where your passion lies.

Whether you decide on Dentistry or Medicine secure your place with our Complete Bundle.

Our Complete Bundle provides support for your Personal Statement, UCAT, BMAT and Interview and guides you to a successful application.

With our Complete Bundle, we guarantee that you will get at least one offer to study Dentistry or Medicine, or your money back.

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