• students;
  • perception;
  • dental practice;
  • career


Aim:  To assess any effect of exposure to dental education and training on the perception and acceptance of dentistry by dental students at a Nigerian dental school.

Participants and methods:  The study was conducted by means of an anonymous self-administered questionnaire distributed to second-, fifth- and sixth-year dental students at the College of Medicine, University of Lagos. Participation was voluntary and 67 students agreed to participate in the study. Majority (51%) were aged between 24 and 27 years. The questionnaire contained questions on demography, preferred choice of course on admission, attempts at change of course, their present perception to dentistry and future dental practice.

Result:  Over 90% of them were admitted through the Joint admission and matriculation board and 40 (60%) chose Medicine as their first course choice. Of the 40, 18 had attempted a change of course and eight were still interested in a career change (four were in the fifth year). Most of the change in attitude occurred in fourth year. Sixty (90%) intend to practice dentistry but 38 (63%) of these would like to practice outside Nigeria.

Conclusion:  Exposure to dental training appears to improve students’ perception about dental practice but uncertainty about future prospects in Nigeria may lead to brain drain in the dental profession.