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News / February 3, 2021

Making the switch – from UK to Ireland dentistry

by Helen Fegan and Eimear Doran

Helen Fegan and Eimear Doran talk through the process of becoming a dental professional in IrelandHelen Fegan and Eimear Doran talk through the process of becoming a dental professional in Ireland.

Having studied at a UK dental school and beginning our dental careers working in the UK, we wanted to research the many job opportunities and benefits in the Republic of Ireland. For many young dentists it is an attractive place to live and work.

When considering this option, we noted that there is limited information available about how dentistry in the Republic of Ireland is organised. Therefore, we have produced this document as a step-by-step guide for young dentists interested in becoming a dental practitioner here.

Registration with the Irish Dental Council

The Irish Dental Council regulates dentists in Ireland in a similar way to the role of the General Dental Council (GDC) in the UK. To legally practice, therefore, all dentists must be on the Irish Register of Dentists list.

A UK dentist currently falls within the category ‘dentists qualified from an EU member state’ and therefore are eligible for registration in Ireland. The Irish Dental Council have said they will notify if any further information or change is required as a result of Brexit.

Currently to apply, the following must be submitted to the Irish Dental Council.

  1. Complete application form
  2. Photocopy of your passport
  3. Photocopy of your primary qualification
  4. Letter of conformity, outlining your compliance with qualifications directive 2005/36/EC
  5. Proof of language proficiency
  6. Letter(s) of good standing or certificate(s) of current professional status
  7. Translations (if necessary)
  8. Registration fee (€220.00 registration fee – as of 1 February 2015).

For a dentist to remain on the Irish Register of Dentists list, an annual retention fee of €250 is paid to the Irish Dental Council. But failure to pay this within two months of the renewal date will result in a late fee of €200 in the application.

Job opportunities

Private practices

Working in general practice as an associate, pay is mostly comprised of private fees from patients. The majority of private practices have signed up to state dental schemes.

There are currently two of these schemes available:

  • Dental Treatment Benefit Scheme – this is available to insured workers, self-employed and retired people who have the required number of Pay Related Social Insurance (PRSI) contributions. Under this scheme, the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection pays the full cost of an oral examination once a calendar year, with care provided by private dental practitioners
  • Dental Treatment Service Scheme – this is means-tested by the Health Service Executive (HSE) and is available to those who have medical cards, are 16 years or older and can include their dependents. For example, free treatment includes a dental examination in one calendar year, two fillings and extractions as necessary.

Associates in private practice fall into two categories:

  1. Self-employed – the Irish Dental Association states: ‘Self-employed associates should have their own business bank account into which their fees are paid directly and there should be a fee-sharing mechanism in place with the principal’.
  2. Employed – associates are employed on a permanent or fixed-term basis. They will receive an agreed annual salary from which income tax, PRSI and Universal Social Charge (USC) will be deducted.

Public dental services (PBS)

The PDS provides dental care to children (≤15 years) and to those with special needs of all ages in HSE clinics. In addition, the PDS provides emergency services for all children under 16 at any HSE clinic.

PDS positions are salaried and dentists are eligible to a Public Service Pension on retirement. There is also entitlement to a certain amount of paid sick leave and paid maternity leave.

Hospital dentistry and university dental faculties

A small number of positions are also available in hospitals. Dentists are employed as dental surgeons, senior house officers, registrars or consultants on a salary or by private fees.

In addition, some dentists work in university settings.

Professional indemnity

A dentist practising in Ireland must hold appropriate levels of professional indemnity cover.

As a result, limited indemnity insurance is provided by the HSE for dental surgeons in the Public Dental Service. But it is strongly recommended that dentists also take out their own indemnity cover. Indemnity insurance is compulsory for general practitioners participating in State Dental Schemes.

Dental Protection is currently the main provider of indemnity in Ireland and offers discounts for dentists who have Irish Dental Association membership.

They also provide discretionary cover meaning members have a right to seek support with their indemnity for a claim.

Alternative indemnity providers are insurance brokers. These organisations provide contractual insurance policies meaning a claim can be made if it falls into the terms and conditions of the cover and will also indicate what the financial limit is for every claim.

It is also important to understand whether cover is occurrence-based or claims-made. For example, for an occurrence-based cover and provided the dentist is paying their subscription correctly at the time of an incident, and a claim is made at a later date, even after retirement, a dentist will be covered perpetually.

On the other hand, a claims-made indemnity cover provides assistance to a certain level and for a specified period of time.

Continuous professional development (CPD) requirements

Dentists in Ireland are not currently required under law to complete regular CPD, but the Irish Dental Council state that dentists have ‘an ethical obligation to maintain and update their skills and knowledge through CPD’.

As of December 2019, the Irish Dental Council have released new guidance with CPD activities now referred to as either ‘structured’ or ‘self-directed’.

Dentists are also responsible for keeping a record of their own CPD. However they are not required to submit any evidence of CPD records to the Irish Dental Council of Ireland.


The tax year in Ireland runs from 1 January to 31 December.

In order to start work, practitioners will need to obtain a Personal Public Service Number (PPSN). This is a unique reference number needed to access social welfare benefits, public services and information in Ireland (similar to a national insurance number in the UK).

For an employee, tax is paid through the Pay as You Earn (PAYE) system. But for the self-employed it is under the Pay and File system.


Dentists must be able to provide an up-to-date and appropriate vaccination history, including hepatitis A and B, BCG and MMR. It is also recommended that a dentist gets the seasonal influenza vaccine each autumn.

Income protection

This is replacement income should a dentist no longer be able to work due to illness or injury and is strongly advised to obtain. There are many plans and providers available, the main companies in Ireland include Dentists’ Provident, Irish Life and DG Mutual.

Dentists who work for the Health Service Executive can also avail of the HSE Sick Leave Scheme.

Irish Dental Association

The IDA is the single national association for dentists in the Republic of Ireland.

There are a number of benefits. For example:

  • A professional mentoring programme
  • Savings on CPD courses
  • Reduced rates on indemnity cover
  • Journal and newsletter of the IDA.

The IDA is the main provider of CPD activities for dentists in Ireland and members can receive a discount for events and courses.

This guide is designed to assist in this transition towards a prosperous new chapter as a dental professional. Whilst the task of moving away from familiar UK practice seems daunting, the Irish dental industry is thriving. It’s also a great way to progress in a career in dentistry.

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