In addition to deciding if they wish to pursue a career in a particular dental speciality, dentists must also choose whether they choose to work for the National Health Service (NHS) or privately.
NHS dentists receive a set fee for each procedure they carry out; this is determined by a scale according to NHS guidelines. The system for children is slightly different as the dentist receives a monthly fee for each child on their list as well as a fee for any treatment administered. NHS dentists most commonly work in local surgeries but they may also work in the community or in hospitals. Most NHS dentists are considered to be self-employed and therefore their salary depends on the amount and nature of the work they undertake.
Those who work in the community in conjunction with local primary care trusts can expect to receive a salary of between £37,000 and £76,000. Consultant level dentists who are employed by the NHS can often earn up to £176,000; this is dependent on their experience, work load and any further rewards relating to good performance. NHS dentists also receive the same benefits such as a pension, as other NHS professionals. There is a set range of treatments available on the NHS; commonly treatments that are solely focused on aesthetics are exempt from this list and must be treated privately.
Private dentistry offers a degree of flexibility for dentists as they are able to determine where and when they work. Private dentistry is often more lucrative than NHS dentistry as the treatments available may not be available on the NHS and can therefore be offered at a higher price; tooth whitening is a common example of this. Private dentistry offers a wider variety of treatments than NHS dentistry and can therefore be more interesting. Private dental fees can be determined on a pay as you go basis or a monthly fee; this is determined by the particular dentist or dental practice. Private dentists can expect to earn an average salary of £80,000 to £90,000 but some may earn much more than this.
Most dentists currently practising in the U.K undertake a combination of NHS and private work; this ensures a wide range of treatments and procedures as well as the satisfaction of helping a large number of patients. This mixture also allows dentists to make the most of the benefits offered by the NHS while maintaining a degree of flexibility.