How Long does it take to Become a Dentist in South Africa?

Becoming a dentist in South Africa typically takes a total of 5 to 6 years of education and training. Here’s a detailed breakdown:

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Educational Path:

  1. Bachelor’s Degree (BDS/BChD):
    • Duration: 5 years
    • Institutions: Universities such as the University of Pretoria, University of the Western Cape, University of Witwatersrand, and University of KwaZulu-Natal offer Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) or Bachelor of Dental Science (BChD) programs.
    • Curriculum: The program includes preclinical and clinical training. The first two years focus on basic medical sciences like anatomy, physiology, and biochemistry, followed by three years of clinical training, which includes hands-on experience in diagnosing and treating dental conditions.
  2. Community Service:
    • Duration: 1 year
    • Requirement: After completing the BDS/BChD degree, graduates must complete one year of community service at a public health facility. This is mandatory to practice as a dentist in South Africa.
  3. Professional Registration:
    • After completing the community service year, graduates must register with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) to legally practice as a dentist.

Read: Subjects Needed to Become a Dentist in South Africa

Total Duration:

  • Education and Training: 5 years (Bachelor’s Degree)
  • Community Service: 1 year


  • Total Time Required: 6 years (5 years of academic training + 1 year of community service)

Additional Information:

  • Specialization: If a dentist wishes to specialize in a particular area, additional postgraduate training is required, which can take an additional 3 to 4 years depending on the specialization.
  • Continuing Education: Dentists are required to engage in continuing professional development (CPD) to stay updated with the latest advancements in dental science and maintain their HPCSA registration.
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For more detailed information on the process, including specific universities and their requirements, you can visit their respective websites or contact the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA).