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.
Special Care Dentistry involves the improvement of the oral health of individuals and groups in society who have a physical, sensory, intellectual, mental, medical, emotional or social impairment or disability or, more often, a combination of these factors. It pertains to adolescents and adults.
In the following article, Nicholas Beacher discusses how you can establish a career in Special Care Dentistry.
Mr Nicholas Beacher | B.D.S. M.F.D.S. (RCPSG),Clinical Lecturer and Honorary StR in Special Care Dentistry University of Glasgow Dental School 378 Sauchiehall Street
Glasgow, G2 3JZ Email: Nicholas.Beacher@glasgow.ac.uk
Where have you worked and studied?
I completed my undergraduate dental training at The University of Glasgow. As part of my undergraduate studies I undertook a year-long specialist study module in Special Care Dentistry. This was a fantastic opportunity for me to gain experience in the field of dentistry I was most interested in. I also developed a strong interest in research and managed to get some hands on experience working with academic colleagues in the Oral Microbiology Department. This was an invaluable experience as it developed my research and scientific skills and increased my appreciation of the value of research and the importance of our scientific colleagues to our dental team.
After graduation, I entered the South East of Scotland Longitudinal Dental Foundation Training Scheme. The training program allowed me to develop my knowledge and clinical ability across the dental specialties. I have developed a broad range of skills and a true understanding of the different dental services and how they relate to each other. It was of real value to me to work in General Dental Practice for two years. This allowed me to have continuity with my patients and I feel I am in a better position to relate to and communicate with referring GDPs. Having obtained my MFDS, I am now undertaking my specialist training in Special Care Dentistry following an academic pathway.
What is SCD?
Special Care Dentistry focuses on the prevention and management of oral disease for the people in society who are unable to receive their dental care routinely as a consequence of a physical, sensory, intellectual, mental, medical, emotional or social impairment or, more often, a combination of these.(1)
In a world where everyone has an equal right to healthcare there is a need for dental professionals who possess a specialist set of skills to enable those with disability or impairment to receive the high quality, patient centred oral healthcare they deserve.
A typical day…
As a training junior academic dentist, my days are very varied. Some days are dedicated to clinical training, where I will be working with patients or attending lectures. Other days are dedicated to teaching or contributing to the research of the university.
Career options after specialising…
At present there are two main career paths following completion of specialist training. Most specialists work within the P.D.S. although they may have a role within a Dental Hospital. Their main focus is on the clinical care of patients. However, it is likely they will be involved in teaching to a certain degree. Further promotion to a position as Clinical Director of an NHS board is possible, if so desired.
The second career option is that of the academic specialist. Following completion of a further higher degree, such as a PHD or DDS, it is possible for the specialist to be appointed to a position as a Senior Clinical Lecturer within a University Dental School. The academic specialist has a commitment to research and teaching whilst continuing to provide clinical care for patients as an Honorary Consultant
Special Care Dentistry is an ultimately fulfilling and rewarding career where each patient is treated as a person and is put at the centre of care to allow their individual needs to be met. This is a growing speciality which is beginning to emerge from its infancy to flourish as an essential group of highly skilled professionals who manage the oral healthcare of some of the most vulnerable members of society.
- Gallagher J E, Fiske J. Special care dentistry – a professional challenge. Br Dent J 2007; 202: 619–629
- British Society for Oral Health and Disability
- International Association for Disability and Oral Health
- GDC: Curriculum for Specialist Training in Special Care Dentistry (Nov 2012)
- RCS: SCD Higher Specialist Training Documents and Curricula
- For more information on applying for specialty training programmes in your area, contact your regional postgraduate dental dean: www.copdend.org.uk
- Exemplar StR post person specification
- The Gold Guide – A reference guide to postgraduate specialty training in the UK
- Medical and Dental Recruitment and Selection website: http://specialtytraining.hee.nhs.uk
- Specialty Recruitment Applicant Handbook
- General Dental Council specialist page: www.gdc-uk.org/Dentalprofessionals/Specialistlist/Pages/default.aspx