To practice as a dental hygienist-therapist in NHSScotland, you must be registered with the General Dental Council (GDC). You will need to study an approved pre-registration programme, which can take three or four years full-time.
In Scotland the following universities offer undergraduate programmes in oral health sciences:
The minimum academic entry requirements for these degree courses vary, but most universities in Scotland require SQA Higher ABBB grades, including Biology and English. A pass in SQA National 5 English and a second science subject grade A - C is also required, if these subjects are not achieved at SQA Higher grade.
Students with an SQA HNC Oral Health Care: Dental Nursing (SCQF Level 7) or SQA HND Dental Nursing (SCQF Level 8) may be allowed entry to year 1.
Entry requirements for oral health science programmes vary depending on the university, college or provider. Specific entry requirements, including other accepted qualifications, are provided on each university’s website.
To apply for an oral health science programme, you must use the UCAS application process. You can also visit the GDC website for a full list of approved educational institutions and oral health science programmes across the UK.
You will also need to be approved for membership of the Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) scheme managed by Disclosure Scotland.
If you already have a relevant degree and healthcare experience, you can take masters degree in Primary Dental Care. This usually takes three years.
Increasingly, work experience plays an important part when applying for oral health science programmes. It will help you decide if a career as a dental hygienist-therapist is for you, as well as confirming your interest and suitability for the course.
Previous experience of working in dental care is beneficial. This can be either or paid or voluntary work in a general dental practice, hospital or other healthcare setting. You could also consider other roles in health and social care.
You are advised to contact NHSScotland boards or general dental practices in your area to discuss opportunities for work experience. Competition is extremely high, so applying early, being proactive and showing initiative is the key to securing a work experience placement.