Do you like working with your hands and have a passion for helping people? Always been fascinated with oral health and how its relation to your overall health and wellbeing? Are you always scoring As in your science subjects, like biology and chemistry?
If so, you might be interested in pursuing a degree in Dentistry!
But while Dentistry is a rewarding career path, many students have unrealistic perceptions of being a dentist, thinking that it’s a much easier path than being a doctor. In reality, dental school is a rigorous FIVE years of intensive education.
Before you commit yourself to a degree in Dentistry, this comprehensive guide will explain everything there is to know about studying a Dentistry course in Malaysia. This will give you a good idea of what is in store for you in order to get through dental school.
#1. The Basics of Dentistry
a) What Is Dentistry?
Dentistry relates to diagnosing, treating and preventing diseases and conditions in the mouth. The practice of Dentistry helps to restore and maintain the oral health of a person.
Oral health is more than preventing cavities and healthy gums. In fact, it can give you lots of clues about your overall health, in addition to impacting your overall wellness. You may not know this, but ongoing inflammation in your mouth can lead to inflammation in other parts of your body as well, like your heart!
From performing dental surgeries and straightening teeth to administering anaesthetics and prescribing medication, dentists play a crucial role in the healthcare industry.
b) What Are the Various Fields of Dentistry?
In the field of Dentistry, you can either be a General Practitioner (GP) or a Dental Specialist.
A General Practitioner (GP) is a general dentist that provides services related to the general maintenance of oral hygiene and oral health.
Dental Specialists, on the other hand, have an in-depth knowledge in a particular field of Dentistry. Here are some of the major fields of specialisation in Malaysia:
|Field||What It Is All About|
|Oral Surgery||Relates to dental implant surgeries and treatment of facial injuries through reconstructive surgery|
|Orthodontics||Prevents and corrects irregularities of the jaws, teeth and bite|
|Paediatric Dentistry||Relates to oral healthcare of infants, children and adolescents|
|Periodontology||Relates to the supporting structures of the teeth, namely gums and surrounding bone|
|Oral Medicine and Oral Pathology||Investigates the causes and effects of oral diseases through lab examinations|
|Dental Public Health||Relates to oral healthcare for the community|
|Restorative Dentistry||Ensures healthy and pain-free teeth development, especially for patients with complex problems|
#2. Studying a Dentistry Course
a) Entry Requirements & Qualifications
Here are the minimum academic qualifications required in order for you to pursue a degree in Dentistry, as set by the Malaysian Dental Council.
|Level of Study||Minimum Requirements|
|STPM or A-Level||Minimum of BBB / ABC / AAC in:
Biology + Chemistry + Physics or Mathematics
|Australian Matriculation (SAM or AUSMAT)||You will need EITHER:
(1) Average of 80% (or the equivalent of B) in:
Biology + Chemistry + Physics or Mathematics,
(2) ATAR 80.0, including:
Biology + Chemistry + Physics or Mathematics
|Matrikulasi or Foundation in Science||Minimum CGPA 3.0 (out of 4.0) in:
Biology + Chemistry + Physics or Mathematics
Entry requirements may vary depending on the university, so make sure you do your research!
b) How Does Your Education Pathway Look Like?
A degree in Dentistry is typically 5 years long.
However, just like doctors, you will need to complete one year of compulsory service with the government before you can become a registered dentist and practise Dentistry in Malaysia.
After that, you can choose to specialise in fields such as orthodontics, paediatric dentistry and periodontology. The process of specialisation is usually 3 years long.
In short, it generally takes about 6 years to be a fully registered dentist (refer to the Malaysian Dental Council’s website for the list of registered dentists), and another 3 years to become a specialist!
Here is a summary of your education pathway.
c) What Will You Study in a Dentistry Degree?
A degree in Dentistry is at least 5 years long and is generally divided into 2 parts.
Part 1, which is approximately 2 to 2.5 years, relates to pre-clinical training that is set in an academic environment. It requires you to learn basic medical sciences, such as anatomy, biochemistry, physiology, oral biology, medical microbiology, pathology & pharmacology. This will give you a good foundation in Dentistry, as well as the structure and function of the human body.
Part 2, which is comprised of the remaining years of your degree, relates to clinical training. During the clinical training period, you will undertake training at teaching hospitals or clinical schools. This is to advance your knowledge, have initial contact with patients and conduct treatment steps.
#3. Why Should You Study Dentistry?
If you find yourself going into Dentistry for the money, recognition, pressure from parents or because “it’s easier than being a doctor”, then you should probably reconsider!
The road to becoming a dentist is long and demanding, not to mention expensive. While it cannot be denied that the profession of Dentistry can be extremely rewarding, never pursue Dentistry for the wrong reasons.
Here are some reasons why you should study Dentistry.
(a) You have a passion for serving and helping others
Being a dentist is like being a doctor — you care and treat people by relieving pain, treating oral conditions and performing surgery for missing and fractured teeth. If you have a strong desire to help people smile and eat again without pain, Dentistry could be the right course for you!
(b) You have a keen interest in science and the human body
A degree in Dentistry will expose you to the intricacies of the human mouth, in addition to how oral health relates to other parts of the human body. Dentistry can be fascinating for those with a curious mind, especially in the area of biology.
(c) Diverse and challenging degree
Dentistry, much like medicine, is rigorous and academically challenging. Being a dentist is very much like being a doctor. You will not only learn dental-related topics, but also medical-related ones too. If you are up for the challenge of working through huge volumes of studying material, gruelling labs and lots of hands-on work, then Dentistry might be a good choice for you.
#4. What Skills Do You Need for a Dentistry Course?
Here are some of the key qualities and skills that you will need to develop in order to do well in a Dentistry degree.
(a) Tenacity and determination
Most dental programmes are rigorous and demanding, requiring you to learn large amounts of material, in addition to long hours at the labs and gruelling practical examinations. A degree in Dentistry does not just involve dental-related subjects — you will also be learning medical subjects too, since you are essentially a doctor as well. Getting through a Dentistry in dentistry requires true grit and determination!
(b) Ability to work well with your hands
You must have good hand-eye coordination and dexterity. In order to perform dental procedures, you need to be able to work with precision on a very small scale. Imagine needing to carve a 5mm x 5mm x 5mm box to fit precisely somewhere in a dark wet hole that occasionally moves, all the while looking in a mirror. This is not an easy feat! If you lack manual dexterity skills, dental school will be a very frustrating experience for you.
(c) Critical thinking and problem-solving skills
As a dentist, you will be expected to diagnose and treat a patient’s oral condition. Complex cases, like a patient who is on various medications for long-term conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes, require careful analysis before performing any dental procedures, since it may impact the patient’s overall health. Having strong problem-solving skills is definitely crucial as part of the work of a dentist.
(d) A genuine empathy for people
As a dentist, you will be meeting many patients day in and day out, each with their own distinct oral issues. You must be able to empathise and have a genuine concern for your patients, whether it’s performing reconstructive surgery or dental implants. After all, their oral health, wellbeing and beauty is (literally) in your hands!
#5. What Career Options Do You Have with a Dentistry Degree?
The standard path for a Dentistry graduate is to be a dentist (obviously!).
Employment opportunities for graduates in Dentistry include:
- Government Hospitals
- Private Oral Health Clinics
- Government Health Services or Community Health Centres
- Dental Colleges and Universities
#6. Should you take up a Degree in Dentistry?
While taking a Dentistry Degree may still feel like the gold standard for you, the truth is, it has taken a back seat (along with other health science degrees) as the demands in the workplace shift. Therefore, it is extremely crucial for you (aspiring dentists!) to ponder upon your decision to pursue a Dentistry course thoroughly.
Additionally, you can also check if a career in Dentistry truly fits your personality.
#7. Where Can You Study Dentistry in Malaysia?
When choosing a university for your degree in Dentistry, you must ensure that your degree is recognised by the Malaysian Dental Council. Otherwise, you may risk not being able to practise Dentistry in Malaysia!
Here are some of the popular Dental schools in Malaysia.
Bachelor of Dental Surgery
Campus: Kota Damansara
Estimated Fees: RM351,800
SEGi’s Mentor-Mentee Activity appoints a lecturer to 7-9 students so that they can discuss academic problems
The faculty has highly qualified and experienced teachers who hold international qualifications in the field of dentistry
A spiral approach helps students to reinforce learning by revisiting relevant areas throughout the curriculum
Doctor of Dental Surgery
Campus: Bandar Saujana Putra, Selangor
Estimated Fees: RM377,200
One of the more affordable Dentistry programmes in KL
Focused in providing quality Health Science programmes to students
Programme is accredited by the Malaysian Dental Council