Dental Officer

Service:Surface Fleet
Humanitarian aid
A Royal Navy Dental Officer at work.

The role at a glance

What you’ll do

Being a Dental Officer in the Royal Navy means using your skills outside the confines of a civilian surgery and taking charge of the primary dental healthcare for an entire ship’s company. If it sounds like a massive task, that’s because it is, but you’ll have the support of a dedicated team, including a Dental Hygienist and a Dental Nurse. Together, you’ll make a vital contribution to the wellbeing of the people who protect our nation’s interests, every day. And you’ll do it all over the world, from the shore bases in the UK, to warships in the Caribbean.

Your role

  • You’ll work on large warships, including our state-of-the-art Type 45 Destroyers, where you’ll have a fully-fitted dental surgery and access to the sick bay’s operating theatre and ward facilities. On smaller ships, you’ll manage the portable dental unit that travels with you.
  • Join at a rank that reflects your experience, and take the opportunity to complete specialist training in areas such as periodontics or endodontics. You’ll also develop your management and leadership skills through our world-class courses and mentoring schemes.
  • Even the smallest dental problem can have a serious effect on the morale of a crew member and the effectiveness of the wider ship’s company. You’ll work with your team to complete preventative dentistry and deal with a full range of clinical problems, in some of the most challenging conditions imaginable.
  • Outside your practice, you’ll have a vital operational role to play. You could find yourself in a combat or disaster zone, where you’ll need to put flight-deck control, firefighting and advanced life support training to use.

What you’ll get

Skills for life

Qualifications you'll gain

  • Study for qualifications is specialisms such as periodontics and endodontics
  • Gain fully accredited professional and academic qualifications during your professional training

Skills you'll develop

  • How to be a leader and apply your knowledge in challenging conditions
  • Opportunities to specialise in major disciplines

Career progression

What you'll need


  • Cadetships are available for your final three years at a UK dental school (not including your intercalation year). To join directly you’ll need a dentistry degree and full General Dental Council registration
  • You must be between 25 and 54 years old, and under 45 if you still need professional training
  • You need to be a minimum height of 151.5cm and within the healthy range for Body Mass Index (BMI)
  • You must be a British or Irish national, a Commonwealth citizen who has lived in the UK continuously for the 5 years prior to applying, or a dual national

Skills and interests

  • An ambitious, passionate dental professional
  • A confident leader

  • Always calm under pressure
  • Have a spirit of adventure
Check Eligibility

Starting your career

Joining process

Once you’ve confirmed your eligibility, the joining process is as follows:

  • Submit an application

    Once you’ve registered your interest and have satisfied the basic eligibility criteria, you will be sent an online application form

  • Naval Service Recruitment Test (NRST)

    You’ll be tested on general reasoning, verbal ability, numeracy and mechanical comprehension

  • Interview

    A formal interview to talk through your suitability for the role

  • Medical and eye tests

    These are quite comprehensive and must be completed by one of our Ministry of Defence-approved doctors

  • Pre-Joining Fitness Test (PJFT)

    This involves completing a 2.4km run on a treadmill within a certain time, at a fitness centre near you

  • Admiralty interview board

    This stage is unique to officers and takes place over a day and a half. It’s a competency-based assessment that confirms that you’re physically and mentally ready to become a Royal Navy Officer

Initial training

You’ll spend 30 weeks training at Britannia Royal Naval College (BRNC) in Dartmouth, focusing on: Military Skills, Maritime Skills and Initial Fleet Time. The military skills phase includes learning leadership and teamwork skills, and the principles of command and management. You will put this into practice during several exercises on Dartmoor.

Aim to get yourself as fit as possible before you arrive. You’ll be doing a lot of physical exercise, and you’ll find it much easier if you’re already in shape. There’s also a swimming test, so if you can’t swim, make sure you learn by the time you join us.

Professional training

With your initial training under your belt, you’ll start a 14-week induction course at Britannia Royal Naval College (BRNC). You’ll then go to HMS Nelson in Portsmouth where you’ll be introduced to Defence Dental Services routines and administration.

If you’re a new or recent graduate, you’ll enter the Defence Dental Services vocational training scheme, which is a structure, 12-month programme that is supervised by an accredited dental professional.