A dentist is a healthcare professional who is qualified to treat diseases and other conditions that affect the teeth and gums. In the UK, dentists must be registered with the General Dental Council to practise. To register, they must have completed a degree in dentistry at a recognised school, or hold an equivalent qualification from abroad. Dentists may provide treatment on the NHS or privately, or a mixture of both.
Although dentists are not medically qualified, they often use ‘doctor’ as a courtesy title. If you are in any doubt about whether you are consulting a dentist or someone with a medical qualification, either ask or check the lists of the relevant regulators.
You may wish to see a dentist if you notice or discover redness or swelling over a large area of your gums or if you are concerned about the skin inside your mouth. Any redness or swelling in your gums could be a symptom of gingivitis, a sign of gum infection or another tooth or gum disease. These infections can be painful, but rarely require urgent care. However, you should not disregard the issue and aim to book an appointment with your dentist. You are encouraged to have regular check-ups with your dentist to discuss your oral health. Generally speaking, dentists advise an appointment every six months, however, your dentist may decide that you require check-ups as frequently as every three months, or as irregularly as every twelve or twenty-four months.