In the UK there are thirteen dental specialties. The General Dental Council (GDC) not only maintains the register of dental practitioners but also maintains the specialist lists. The recognised specialties in the UK are:
Dental and Maxillofacial Radiology, Dental Public Health, Endodontics, Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology, Oral Medicine, Oral Microbiology, Oral Surgery, Orthodontics, Paediatric Dentistry, Periodontology, Prosthodontics, Restorative dentistry, Special Care Dentistry.
Please note that Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery is considered to be a medical specialty in the UK and requires the trainee to have a medical and dental degree before starting training.
The GDC is also the sole competent authority with ultimate responsibility for specialist training and standards of practice in the UK.
There is competitive entry for specialist training posts. It would be very unusual for a dentist to be accepted onto a specialist training programme without having gained general experience in many aspects of routine dentistry in addition to experience in secondary care. Although the possession of the MFDS or MJDF diploma is not mandatory for entry into a specialty training post, many of the candidates from the UK will have passed one of these examinations. When applying for a training post, it is not uncommon for the person specification of your application to request details of you experience in: management, teaching, leadership, research and audit.
Once accepted into training, all trainees are allocated individual training numbers by the Postgraduate Dental Deans. The trainee is regularly assessed to ensure progress in specialist training. The assessment process for specialist trainees in dentistry (formerly called the RITA assessment, record of in-training assessment) is now called the ARCP (Annual Review of Competence Progression). A satisfactory ARCP is required for the time you are training to be a specialist. Training programmes are usually three to five years, full time (or equivalent part time)in length depending on the specialty. At the end of the training period you may then enter the specialist examinations.
Satisfactory completion of an approved training post and the passing of the specialist examination will allow you to apply to be included on the GDC's specialist list.