Skip to main content

Trinity College Dublin, The University of Dublin

Trinity Menu Trinity Search

You are here Courses > Undergraduate > Degree > Dental Science

Dental Science (B.Dent.Sc)

Dental Science is the study of the oral cavity and the diseases associated with oral tissues. This five-year programme is designed to ensure that graduates can safely and effectively deliver the full range of primary dental care, including prevention, diagnosis and treatment of oral and dental diseases. Treatment involves areas such as the restoration of damaged teeth, the correction of irregularities, the replacement of missing teeth and surgical procedures such as the removal of teeth. In recent years there has been an exponential advance in dental science with greater emphasis on preventing disease as well as the development of new, minimally invasive methods and materials for restoring teeth.


On successful completion of the five-year Dental Science undergraduate programme, dental graduates must be capable of independently providing a wide range of oral healthcare for adults and children including those with special needs.

Trinity College Dublin confers the degree Bachelor of Dental Science that entitles the graduate to register as a dentist on the Register of the Dental Council of Ireland ( Dental Science graduates who are EU citizens are entitled to register with the regulatory bodies of other countries in the European Union which fulfil the Sectoral Directives as they relate to the education and training of dentists. Dental graduates from Irish dental schools can now practice Dentistry in Canada.

The curriculum of the Dental Science programme is based around problem-based learning, which is complemented by considerable emphasis on clinical competence in primary oral healthcare based on appropriate, prioritised and scientifically acceptable treatment methods. Students commence treating (under supervision) their own patients in the second year and by the fifth year are expected to have completed a wide range of treatments similar to those provided in general dental practice.

Clinical training in dentistry requires the application of a wide range of knowledge and experience in an integrated manner to the provision of oral healthcare for patients. The curriculum design uses integration of subjects across the years and learning in one year may be revisited in a subsequent year. The result is that learning from one module may be prerequisite to a subsequent module in the same or a later year or be complemented by another in the same year, as well as being applicable across all areas of clinical dental practice.

NOTE: All registered Dental Science students are required to purchase instrument kits for use during the programme. The cost of the instrument kit is €3,000 and payment is required at the beginning of Year 2. The instruments are used for the duration of the programme and students keep them when they leave.

A day in the life of a Dental Science student

In first year, a dental science student will be around campus with lectures and labs in physics and chemistry. Lectures won’t last all day but can start at nine in the morning and continue until five, with plenty of breaks. There are also PBL (problem-based learning) tutorials three times a week that last 2 hours each. Anatomy of the head and neck is taught through both lectures and practical demonstrations on cadavers, not for the squeamish! At least at the end of this year there is a long summer holiday, the only one!

During second year, a lot more time is spent in the dental hospital teaching laboratory with up to 3 sessions a week learning the basic dental skills and every Monday afternoon is spent in the clinics working in pairs on patients. Students cannot afford to miss any sessions as the pace is fast and there is a lot to take in.

In third year, there are many more clinics where you’ll be treating real patients 2-3 times per week and also learning more advanced skills in the lab. Learning how to organise and manage patients is a skill that is picked up very quickly!

Fourth and fifth-years are really “hands-on”. Expect to be in at 8:30 most mornings and it doesn’t end at five either. Some time is spent booking patients' appointments and coordinating their treatments. You’re busy restoring patients' mouths with dentures, implants, crowns, bridges etc. every day. Time is also spent in theatre assisting in operations and in various other clinics which are usually pretty interesting. There are various lectures and courses to attend and also a dissertation in final year to keep you busy, before even considering studying for the final exams which start in mid April and continue in May and early June.

What does a dentist do?

Dentists provide oral and dental healthcare for patients and communities. The dentist is head of the Dental Team which consists of dentists, (who may be specialists or general dentists) dental hygienists, dental nurses, clinical dental technicians and dental technicians. There has been an exponential advance in dental science with greater emphasis on preventing disease as well as the development of new, minimally invasive methods and materials for restoring teeth. Another major development is the use of dental implants which have revolutionised the replacement of missing teeth.

What are the career prospects?

There is a wide range of career options open to a qualified dentist. New graduates usually find themselves deciding whether to work in general dental practice providing both state funded or private dental care or in the salaried public dental service. Many graduates choose to continue their education with the aim of becoming a specialist in one area within dentistry. One point to note is that after qualifying there is no mandatory “intern year”, unlike medicine. The course is very practical throughout with lots of hands-on experience treating patients. Dentistry does give scope to work and travel worldwide (although some countries such as the US require that an examination is passed before a dentist qualified from Ireland may practice). Citizens of the EU who graduate from an EU dental school may practice anywhere in the EU and there is currently demand for dentists all over Europe.

Gillian Smith
Graduate 2012

As both an undergraduate and postgraduate student in the School of Dental Science, Trinity, I received an education second-to-none along with exceptional support from academic and clinical staff alike. This has enabled me to take great pride and find joy and satisfaction in my day-to-day working life. The quality of teaching opened many doors for me and I have developed an interesting and successful career path that owes much to my training in the School of Dental Science.

Gillian was awarded the Sensodyne Dentist of the Year in 2012.


Foundation Scholarships

Foundation scholarship is a College institution with a long history and high prestige. The examination for the award of scholarship is set and assessed so as to select students of outstanding ability. The objective of the foundation scholarship examination is to identify students who, at a level of evaluation appropriate to the Senior Freshman year, can consistently demonstrate exceptional knowledge and understanding of their subjects.

The examination requires candidates to demonstrate skill in:

  • Synthesising and integrating knowledge across the full range of the set examination materials
  • Demonstrating rigorous and informed critical thought
  • Demonstrating a highly-developed ability to solve problems and apply knowledge in appropriate disciplines

Each year, the Dental Science programme offers Scholarship examinations to interested members of the second-year cohort. Examination results are not published until after the announcement is made on the steps of the Exam Hall in Front Square at 10am on Trinity Monday, a long-standing tradition within the university.

Further details of the rules and regulations surrounding Scholarship examinations can be found in the College Calendar

Mature Students

Each year, many students apply for mature entry to the Dental Science course (37 in 2013-14). Approximately 2-3 students are accepted through the mature student pathway, so competition is fierce and all applicants should be aware of that from the outset. This page will provide you with the information you need to prepare for a mature student application to the Dental Science course at Trinity College.

Step One: Making an application

**Closing Date for applications is 01 FEBRUARY 2019**

You must consult the Trinity College mature students page for information on how to apply and for information specific to being a mature student here in Trinity:

This webpage is maintained at School level and so contains information regarding our short listing procedure and information about the course itself. All dates and deadlines are set by the CAO and by the Admissions Office in Trinity College. Should there be any conflicting information, please adhere to the CAO / TCD Admissions Office information.

Step Two: Shortlisting

All applications must be made through the official Trinity College application process. After the deadline, all applications are delivered to the School and the process of shortlisting begins. Applications are not accepted if sent directly to the School.

The following information should be noted:

  • Incomplete applications are not considered
  • If you are a non-native-English speaker, you must provide details (including results) of your English language scores; If you omit this, your application will not be considered
  • If you list examinations of any kind (Leaving Certificate, A-Levels, University exams, etc) you must include the results of these exams (eg A1, II Hons, 65%, etc)
  • Some elements of the Trinity College application form are considered to be ‘optional'; The School advises that you complete all sections of the form, please do not consider any section to be optional

Don’t sell yourself short!

Whether or not you are shortlisted for further consideration is based solely on your application form. As such, it is crucial that you sell yourself well. Here are some tips to help you with your application:

  • List all of your experiences – work related, volunteering, extra-curricular activities, academic achievements, creative outlets, everything! The more you include, the better your chances of standing out and of being shortlisted
  • Try to highlight the key points in your application in order to catch the eye of the assessors
  • Provide enough detail – you need to find the balance between catching the attention of the assessor (make your points jump off the page) and expanding on your points to ensure you sell yourself well

Example 1: Hobbies
Many applicants list their hobbies using one word or one line. This gives us no indication of the amount you are doing, how long you have done it, or the standard you have achieved. This provides no guidance for us regarding how your hobby may illustrate your manual dexterity, etc. If you were to write that you have been practising fine art painting for X years, that you have knitted intricate patterns, that you have played piano to grade X, etc it gives us much more information to work with and it would help you to stand out from applicants who just write ‘play piano’, ‘art’, ‘knitting’.

Example 2: Clinical experience
Many applicants have spent time in dental clinics and they list this as a one-line entry under work experience. In order to stand out, you should list some of the specifics you have been exposed to – have you observed certain procedures, have you interacted with patients, were you given an induction by the dental team, etc? Applicants who have genuinely gained a lot of clinical experience over a long period of time should stand out above those who have done just one session the week before they made their application.

Example 3: Charity / Voluntary work
Many applicants undertake voluntary work and this is an advantage when applying. You must provide details of what you do rather than simply listing the charitable organisation and dates of your work. Someone who works with SVP could be a bucket-collector, or they could be someone who visits households in disadvantaged areas and interacts with a broad section of the community. If you do not provide details of your voluntary work, you will not stand out from the other applicants.

Gain valuable experience:

If you are just starting to consider a career-change to dentistry, you might find it useful to do some or all of the following:

  • Observations / work experience in dental clinics
  • Voluntary work of some sort, leaning towards involvement with an organisation rather than just fundraising
  • Hobbies / crafts that improve and demonstrate your manual dexterity
  • Illustrate your long-standing interest in the field of dentistry by keeping dates and details

Step Three: Multiple Mini Interviews (MMIs) – will take place on Tuesday 9th April 2019

There is no standard interview for mature applicants to Dental Science in Trinity College. Shortlisted candidates (approximately 10) are invited to attend for assessment through MMI. MMIs are held in the Dublin Dental University Hospital and take a half-day to complete. All shortlisted candidates attend for the half-day as all candidates compete concurrently. Candidates are not required to bring anything for the MMI assessment.

MMIs involve a series of stations (usually 10). A booklet is provided, detailing the instructions for each station. The candidates progress through the circuit of stations, spending equal time on each station. Time is managed by the staff and candidates move to the next station when the bell sounds. Interaction with staff is minimal during the MMI assessment in order to ensure that everyone is judged equally and fairly.

The stations range from manual dexterity tests to short standard interviews to scenario-based stations examining a range of skills and attributes. In order to ensure that all applicants are on an equal footing when they start, we do not divulge any further information regarding the MMI stations. MMI stations change from year to year.

Step Four: The Outcome

The School endeavours to provide the outcome of the MMI assessment as quickly as possible. We will send an email to each MMI participant which will provide an outcome as well as some feedback on their performance. If you are successful at MMI assessment, you will be offered a place as a mature entrant to the Dental Science course. If you are not successful at MMI assessment, you may still be offered a place through your CAO application, depending on the points.

We hope you have found this information beneficial and comprehensive. Please ensure that you monitor the CAO and TCD websites for information regarding application procedures and closing dates. Best of luck with your application!

General information for mature students:

To apply for Dental Science:

Advanced entry

Graduates of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine only who wish to change the direction of their career may apply for advanced entry to Dental Science, meaning they would enter the course in year 2 and undertake year-2 coursework as well as a concurrent programme of year-1 material. This places the advanced entry students under enormous pressure and should only be considered by candidates who are 100% committed to such a workload.

Places on advanced entry are extremely limited and vary from year to year, depending on whether any gaps in year 2 materialise through student attrition. Competition for advanced entry is fierce and usually the successful candidates are fully-qualified doctors or vets.

Students who are shortlisted will be selected through the Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) process. Please see the Mature Students section above for full details of this selection process.

For further information, please see the Trinity College Admissions Office website:

For information on how to apply, please see the Course listing on the Trinity College website:

Please note: all Dental Science students in year 2 of the programme are required to purchase a dental instrument kit that they will use for the duration of the programme and beyond. The instrument kit costs approximately €3,000 and is payable before the end of Michaelmas Term (Christmas) in year 2. Advanced entry students should be aware of this cost and make any relevant preparations.

Working in Canada

Dental graduates from Irish dental schools can now practice Dentistry in Canada (once they have completed their State Board examinations), without the necessity to complete an additional two years in a dental institution in Canada. This is due to the reciprocal agreement between the two countries. We recognise that many of our graduates will choose this option and so here is some useful information.

There are two federal permanent immigration programs which would be suited for immigration of skilled workers such as dentists

The Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) (or “points system”) is designed to select people with the ability to adapt quickly to the labour market by assessing each applicant’s essential and transferable skills. To be successful, applicants must obtain at least 67 points in the Federal Skilled Worker scoring system, called a “grid”, which evaluates language, education, work experience, age, arranged employment and adaptability.

Because demand in the program has historically been very high, the federal immigration department (Citizenship & Immigration Canada or CIC) manages the intake of applicants. There is a list of in-demand occupations for which applications are accepted but dentists are not currently (Nov 2013) on the list as they are not in short supply nation-wide, although there are needs in some rural or remote communities.

Dentists should note that there are no limits on the number of applicants processed with offers of arranged employment. In this sense, the Program facilitates the selection of workers with offers of employment in Canada (“Arranged Employment”) by offering priority processing, extra selection points, and waiving the requirement for settlement funds if applicants are already working in Canada. Please note that various requirements apply, including:

  • Having at least one year of work experience in a managerial, professional or technical occupation
  • Providing an approved language test showing they meet level 7 of the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB)
  • Providing either a Canadian diploma or their foreign diploma along with an approved assessment that shows what it is equivalent to in Canada

Canada’s immigration program also provides for the temporary entry of foreign workers who are important to Canada’s economic growth.

It is possible to enter Canada relatively quickly under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). The TFWP allows employers to hire foreign nationals on temporary work permits to fill shortages, subject, in most cases, to the skills department of the Canadian government verifying the job offer to ensure it is genuine and that foreign workers are not displacing Canadians. For more information, please consult Human Resources and Skills Development Canada’s website to find out what Canadian employers can do to hire a foreign national to come work in Canada either permanently or on a temporary basis.

An advantage of this program is that it is possible for a qualified temporary foreign worker to gain experience in the Canadian labour market and bridge to permanent residence under the Canadian Experience Class or Provincial Nominee Program.

Another thing to keep in mind is that to work in Canada, internationally trained dentists must be licensed to practice in their province of destination. For more details, please refer to the National Dental Examining Board (NDEB) of Canada website. As both the Cork and Dublin dental schools have received accreditation by the Council for Dental Accreditation of Canada (CDAC) Irish graduates would only have to undertake the same NDEB process as graduates from Canadian schools.

Other programs you may wish to review:

The Canadian Experience Class (CEC) created in 2008, allows applicants who have successfully worked in a skilled occupation for at least one year, and who have official language proficiency, to remain in Canada permanently.

The Provincial Nominee Program: This is a provincial and territorial program. Provinces and territories nominate workers at various skill levels who meet their specific needs. The requirements vary from province to province.

The Quebec Skilled Worker Program: Foreign nationals who want to go to Quebec must first apply to the Quebec government for a Certificat de sélection du Québec (CSQ). The criteria for obtaining a CSQ are determined by the Quebec government.

Information on this page was supplied by the Chief Dental Officer, Public Health Agency of Canada (November 2013).