Dentists or dental surgeons are health care professionals who carry out dental treatments. These include preventive cleaning of teeth, repairing tooth damage and decay, treating diseases of the roots, gums and soft tissues of the mouth along with surgical procedures.

Where dentists are employed

Most dentists work in private practice. Some are also employed within state or territory governments, and in the Australian Defence Force. Opportunities for careers in teaching and research also exist, mainly within universities and dental training institutions.


Full-time dentists in South Australia generally earn more than $1,600 per week.

Graph of pay scales for dentists

Job prospects

Demand for dental services depends on demographic factors such as the size and age of the population, the general economic climate, the extent of private health cover and public awareness of new services available. Demand for dentists in the public sector depends on government funding policies.

In 2011 there were 482 people employed full-time as dentists compared with 440 in 2006.

How to become one

Usually you need to complete a degree in dentistry, dental science or dental surgery at university. Alternatively, you can complete a degree in a related field followed by a postgraduate qualification in dentistry, dental surgery or dental medicine.

At school consider doing English, mathematics, biology, chemistry and physics. For information on course admission requirements and how to apply to the universities and TAFE in South Australia visit the South Australian Tertiary Admissions Centre (SATAC).

Check South Australian Universities at The University of Adelaide, Flinders University and University of South Australia.

For information about Australian universities, visit Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching (QILT).

Licensing or registration requirements

In Australia all dental practitioners must be registered with the Dental Board of Australia (DBA).  The DBA registers dentists, dental hygienists, dental prosthetists, dental therapists and oral health therapists.

Overseas trained and qualified dentists may need gap training to meet registration requirements in Australia.

Recognition of qualifications and skills obtained outside Australia

There are three ways in which overseas qualified dentists can gain recognition to enter the profession in Australia:

  • completing an approved Australian course, where you may be granted some credit from previous studies
  • by immediate recognition of your existing overseas qualifications
  • completing the Australian Dental Council (ADC) examination process. 

For information about assessment of overseas qualifications, and looking for work in Australia visit Recognition of overseas qualifications or contact Skilled Arrival Services on 08 8303 2420 or email

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Career information has been sourced from government publications, see data sources for more information.

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