The GDC currently recognises 13 various fields of dentistry with regards to their specialist register. You are not required to join a specialist list to practise a specialty, however, only dentists on these specialist lists have the right to use the ‘specialist’ title. In this series of articles you can find out more about each specialty from experts in their respective fields, with advice on the career pathway as well as sharing their experiences as a specialist.

Dental & Maxillofacial Radiology involves all aspects of medical imaging which provide information about anatomy, function and diseased states of the teeth and jaws.

In the following article, Kirstyn Donaldson, discusses how you can establish a career in Dental & Maxillofacial Radiology.

Miss Kirstyn Donaldson | BDS, MFDS RCPSG

StR/Honorary Clinical Teacher in Dental and Maxillofacial Radiology (DMFR)
Dundee Dental Hospital & Glasgow Dental Hospital


I qualified from Newcastle Dental School in 2010 and subsequently moved for a Dental Foundation year (DF1) based in Glasgow Dental Hospital. During that year, I spent time in Oral Surgery, Oral Medicine, Restorative and Dental Radiology and it was then I realised that I wanted to explore Dental and Maxillofacial Radiology as a career. I completed my VT year in 2012 in the West of Scotland and within that year, I completed my MFDS. For just over a year after VT, I undertook a couple of SHO jobs in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Orthodontics and Endodontics.


I started my Specialty Training in DMFR in November 2013 and my training is split between both Dundee and Glasgow Dental Schools. I am also honorary clinical teacher for both Dundee and Glasgow universities. Separate to my StR training, I am completing an MSc in Diagnostic Imaging through Sheffield Hallam University.

What is DMFR?

DDMFR is a small dental specialty which encompasses all aspects of dental radiology that you are taught about as an undergraduate but also the head and neck where there is cross–over with medical radiologists by looking at trauma, ultrasound, Cone Beam CT, Medical CT and MRI. The amount of cross-over varies depending on where you work. DMFR also allows for the possibility of carrying out interventional techniques such as ultrasound guided biopsies or removal of salivary stones by endoscopic techniques.

A typical week…

There is no such thing as a typical week and my rota changes every 4-6 months. I currently spend three sessions a week in general hospitals doing neck ultrasounds, reporting MRI and attending a head and neck oncology MDT. My dental hospital sessions are varied and I can’t predict what I will be doing in particular sessions.


Entry Requirements

You must hold a BDS degree and be registered with GDC. A minimum of 2 years post graduate experience preferably in a combination of both primary and secondary care settings is required and ideally the secondary care should be split between different dental disciplines to allow for a full rounded knowledge.

To strengthen your application for an StR post you should:

  • Complete audits and presentations
  • Become a member of societies related to the specialty (e.g. BSDMFR) and attend conferences as this shows a genuine interest in the specialty and will allow you to speak to current trainees if you have questions.

Training pathway:

Completion of DMFR Training includes:

  1. Satisfactory Completion of a 4 year full time DMFR Training pathway (there will be alternatives if only able to work part time) with an National Training Number (NTN). This time is split between dental hospitals and general hospitals along with a physics lectures within the first 6 months of training.
  2. Completion of the Diploma of Dental and Maxillofacial Radiology (DDMFR) from the Royal College of Radiologists.

There are 3 exams to sit throughout training at specific time points:

  • FRCR Part 1 Physics Exam (after 6 months of training): Multiple Choice Physics Exam (same exam that the Medical Radiology Registrars sit)
  • DDMFR Part A  (after 18 months of training): Short Answer paper on Anatomy, Radiographic Techniques and Physics and an anatomy spotter using radiographic images.
  • DDMFR Part B (after 3 years of training):  Written paper on Dental and Maxillofacial Radiology, Reporting session and an oral exam


Any other advice to a young student aiming to set off on the path to a career in DMFR?

Get as much experience in DMFR as possible, by shadowing or attending conferences, as it’s important to understand what the job entails before pursuing it.
Speak to current DMFR trainees/consultants and ask questions about their career. If you show genuine interest you will be surprised how many people are willing to give up their time to talk to you and support you towards your career goals.


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