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It is a long hard road to become trained and qualified as a dentist in any country. The same is true in South Africa. However South Africa is a little different in that there is a distinct lack of dentists currently practising, especially given the size of the population in this country.

This is good news for you if you want to go into dentistry however, since it means there will be lots of dentist jobs waiting for you to apply to once you are fully trained. Let’s delve into this area in more detail so you can get a good idea of what to expect.

Are all dentist jobs the same?

No – there are different options available for you to consider. We have listed a few of the main ones you will see below.

Locum dentist

A locum dentist is a dentist that is hired to fill in for other dentists (one or more) when they are unable to work for some reason. This may occur in a number of ways. For example you may be hired to cover for a group of dentists within the same practice whenever they are suddenly unable to get to work for some reason. A good example would be through illness.

On other occasions a locum dentist may be required to work a set number of hours per week (perhaps even full time) for a number of months to cover for a vacancy.

Full time dentist

This is obviously the most common type of vacancy you will see. It is often advertised as a vacancy with a private practice and all the general duties a dentist can expect to handle will be provided here.

Separate dental jobs will give more information about the specific vacancy you would be applying for. For instance some might say ‘family friendly practice’ while others might say private practice that is constantly busy. You will almost always have to undertake the same duties, or almost the same, but the information given in the job adverts will assist you in finding the right job.

Dentist with specialist training and experience

On occasion you will see adverts for dentist jobs that require you to have more specialised knowledge of your career. It is worth remembering that for some dentists, the initial five year degree course they must pass is only the beginning. After this some of them will focus on taking further degree courses so they can learn a specialisation within dentistry. A good example of a more specialist area of concern is maxillofacial surgery, which you may see abbreviated to MFS in job adverts.

So you can see there are different opportunities available once you are fully qualified and registered to work as a dentist in South Africa. For some dentists the idea of being a locum works well, whereas others would prefer to work full time with a dedicated practice all the time. This enables them to get to know their regular patients, which can certainly lead to better ongoing treatment.

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