Do you have a passion for the medical industry and being a part of a community that is dedicated to helping people?
Perhaps, you may even like the feeling you get when you work with your hands?
Medical doctors, pharmacists, and nurses are some of the most well-known positions in the medical field.
One position that is often overlooked is dentists.
If becoming a dentist is something you’d like to pursue, or even consider as a career path for your future, take a look at this comprehensive guide we have for you!
This article will cover the basics of dentistry, the courses available in Malaysia, as well as all the relevant information such as the entry requirements and the education pathways to study dentistry in Malaysia.
What is Dentistry?
Dentistry is involved with diagnosing, treating, and preventing diseases in the mouth.
This field is essentially devoted to restoring and maintaining the oral health of an individual.
Aside from tooth extractions and filling in cavities, the practice of dentistry is essential to understanding the overall health of a person.
In some cases, the state of your oral hygiene can be an indicator of something else happening with your internal organs.
Dentists are often forgotten or ignored until an emergency has already occurred.
The valuable work that dentists provide does so much more than cleaning our teeth.
While they are often viewed and valued for their cosmetic aid, such as straightening and whitening our teeth, the art of dentistry goes deeper than that.
Dentists are responsible for ensuring our dental hygiene is well kept to prevent any disease, infection, and even cancer from occurring or developing further.
Why Should You Study Dentistry?
There are several reasons why you should study dentistry!
However, do not be fooled into thinking that dentistry is an easier pathway to becoming a doctor compared with what medical doctors have to go through.
The educational and career pathway to earning your place and recognition in the dental industry is a long and challenging road.
Dentistry can take a toll on both your physical and mental wellbeing, so if you are willing to put yourself through the challenge, be sure that you are signing up for the right reasons.
Here are some of the reasons you should definitely consider:
You have an eye for precision and accuracy
The work of the dentist rests on their ability to commit to precise and accurate work.
Dentistry would require you to work with a lot of mechanical tools. Repeatedly.
Therefore, it is vital to have a good eye on ensuring that your level of precision and accuracy is maintained.
Regardless of the ever-evolving technology of dentist tools, the instruments in your hand will only work as well as you can.
You enjoy and have compassion towards helping others
Having compassion is an important quality for anyone working within the health industry.
The main priority is to help others.
Your goal is to ensure that the oral health of your patients is at its best so that they may be able to eat – and smile – without any complication or pain.
Being understanding and sympathetic to your patients’ shortcomings is vital to your job as a dentist.
If you believe these to be characteristics you have, dentistry just might be the right programme for you!
Science is an enjoyable subject
If you find science subjects, especially biology, difficult to comprehend, dentistry would be extremely challenging for you.
However, if you feel the opposite, then great!
Science is a captivating subject, and the focus of dentistry is even more so.
It will provide you with a deeper understanding and knowledge of the human anatomy as a whole on top of the intricate details of oral health.
Flexible career path
After completing your degree and housemanship, you can choose to work under an already established dental company.
This gives you an opportunity to work with experienced dentists and learn from them.
It may even help you establish your own name in the industry, build a reputation with your patients, and hone your skills better.
When you are ready to start independently, you may choose to establish your very own private practice.
This can be particularly beneficial for you as it can lead to financial independence and set your very own goals and missions for your establishment.
What are the Dentistry Fields?
After completing your degree in dentistry, you have the option to choose a specialisation.
This branch deals with any operation that is performed on the teeth, gums, jaw, and surrounding oral and facial structures.
From teeth extractions, dental bone grafts, dental implants, to corrective jaw surgery – it is the job of an oral surgeon to perform these procedures.
This branch specifically focuses on dealing with the prevention and correction of the teeth, bite, and jaw.
Issues such as jaw misalignment, crooked teeth, underbite or overbite, and gapped teeth, are what orthodontics treat.
As the name goes, this field deals with the oral health of infants all the way to young teenagers.
Specifically, it focuses on oral diseases, disorders, and traumatic injuries in young children.
This specialisation is involved with restoring a normal, healthy, pain-free oral health in their patients.
It deals with either repairing or replacing teeth.
Issues such as cavities, damaged teeth, or missing teeth.
It may require crowns, fillings, dentures, implants, and other treatments.
What are the Popular Dentistry Pathways?
After completing your SPM/O-Level or equivalent, you may enrol into a pre-university course.
There are a variety of programmes you may choose from, such as Foundation in Science, Australian Matriculation programmes, and even STPM.
You then proceed to your Degree in Dentistry at the university of your choice, which takes about 5 years to complete.
So how do you become a dentist in Malaysia?
You need to have 5 credits in SPM/O-Level, including Bahasa Melayu, Mathematics, and 1 Science subject.
Pre-university courses usually take between 1 to 2 years to complete and cost from RM 18,000.
Bachelor’s Degree in Dentistry
For degree courses, you will need to have 5 credits in SPM/O-Level qualification, including Bahasa Melayu, Mathematics, and 1 Science subject, and the following pre-university course:
- STPM: min. 3Bs
- A-Level: min. 3Bs
- AUSMAT/SACE: min. ATAR 80
- Relevant Foundation: min. CGPA of 3.00
- Relevant Diploma: min. CGPA of 3.50
You will need to take Biology, Chemistry, Physics or Mathematics at the foundation/pre-university level to meet minimum academic requirements for a degree in dentistry.
A pre-university course can take up to 2 years to complete and cost from RM 20,000.
Once you’ve completed your pre-university course, you can then move on to the degree course.
Degree courses take 5 years to complete and cost from RM 300,000.
Diploma students who want to continue their studies can do so with a degree course and they begin in Year 2.
After your degree, you are required to complete 1 year of housemanship at a government hospital.
Once you have completed this, you may then register to become a licensed dentist in Malaysia.
If you wish to further your career, you can enrol back in school to receive your postgraduate education in the specialisation of your choice.
This path will add up another 3 years into your schooling life.
What are the Skills Required to Study Dentistry?
To study dentistry, you would need a number of skills in order for you to not only get through the course but also excel in your classes. Here are a few:
This course would require you to memorise a large amount of information.
Apart from the number of medical journals and studies – not to mention the history of dentistry – you would also need to have knowledge of the complex anatomy of the human mouth at your fingertips.
There are several medical terms and treatments you would need to know in order for you to pass your exams.
High level of concentration
As a dental student, you need to have good attention to detail.
This is a skill that will benefit you during your studies and practical work.
You want to ensure that your patients will be comfortable and receive the treatment they need, which is why having good concentration skills is vital for your work.
Many cases are similar to each other, but each is unique on its own.
Some cases may require you to use critical thinking skills to solve an issue.
When studying dentistry, you may be given case studies to solve as a part of your assignment.
You will need to know how to think outside the box in order to fix the issue.
This is also a vital skill to have when you have emergency cases to handle.
Passion for helping others
Most importantly, you need to have compassion for people.
It is essential to have this skill as it is one of the main drives of ensuring you perform successful dental work.
Your goal is to relieve the pain and discomfort your patient is receiving.
Therefore, when entering into the study of dentistry, it is important that you have a passion for alleviating the pain of others.
Top Dentistry Universities in Malaysia
International Medical University (IMU) is Malaysia’s first private medical and health sciences university.
The university introduced the first programme to allow medical students to transfer credits to a Partner Medical School.
Founded in 1992, IMU has grown exponentially since then. Today it has officially established its first IMU Hospital next to their campus.
Dentistry course offered:
- Bachelor of Dental Surgery (IMU)
PIDC is one of the common name among dentists in Malaysia. More than 800 dentists have graduated from here since 2006.
Based out of Butterworth, PIDC specialises in dentistry programme only and runs a polyclinic that offers a wide range of dental services.
This clinic, which are attended by 3rd to 5th year dentistry students with the supervision of attending dental specialists, has a high volume of patients, thus giving PIDC students ample opportunities to gain solid practical experience.
Dentistry course offered:
- Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS)
AIMST offers highly accredited undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.
The university draws their curriculum from UK based universities in order to maintain high academic status and teaching qualities.
Dentistry course offered:
- Bachelor of Dental Surgery
Founded in 1977, SEGi is a private university offering a wide range of courses from pre-university to postgraduate levels.
It is considered to be the biggest provider of tertiary education in Malaysia, educating over 25,000 students across its 5 campuses located around the country.
The university is dedicated to delivering accessible quality education and excellent academic standards.
Additionally, SEGi has also received awards from both SETARA and QS Ratings.
Dentistry courses offered:
- Bachelor of Dental Surgery
Things You Need to Know About a Dentistry Career
After completing your dentistry degree, you would need to undergo a 1-year housemanship at a government hospital in Malaysia.
To do this you have to first register with the Malaysian Dental Council (MDC) to become a registered dental practitioner.
Then, register online with Suruhanjaya Perkhidmatan Awam (SPA) to allocate you a job as a new dentist.
Do take note that SPA is not your new employer.
Your employer at this current stage would be the Health Ministry.
Next, you would have to wait until you receive your offer letter.
Once you’ve received your offer letter, submit the required documents, and then report to the clinic you have been assigned to!
Popular Dentistry Jobs
After you’ve completed your housemanship, you are now free as a dental officer to now apply for your preferred jobs in the companies you want to work with!
According to JobStreet, here are some of the dentistry positions available in Malaysia:
- Dentist officer
- Dental Assistant (DSA)
- Dental Surgery Assistant
As a dentist, you can earn quite a lot, but of course, this depends on the companies you choose to work with and your experience.
According to Payscale, the average base salary a dentist can earn in a year can start from RM99,000.