Damien Walmsley, Professor of Restorative Dentistry at University of Birmingham Dental School and Scientific Advisor to the BDA

Plan B and my dream job would be a travel guide writer and photographer for Rough Guides or Lonely Planet. I always collect guidebooks of places I visit and keep a diary of my experiences. Additionally there is a constant stream of photographs that catalogue my travels wherever I am around the world. Recently, I learnt about someone who sold photographs he had taken during his travels and these funded his living expenses in each country he visited. Now that is a dream job to pursue!

John Milne, Chair of the BDA General Dental Practice Committee

I still wonder what I'll do when I grow up! Dentistry was suggested to me after my A-levels and seemed like a good idea at the time. I've relished all the challenges both clinically and latterly politically and still love the job.

As a keen musician I harboured an illusion that I might make a living with my voice and guitar – and still enjoy playing and singing today. I also very nearly decided to study law with the aim to become a barrister ... something about loving an argument ... in fact I could probably start an argument in an empty room.

So what would my Plan B have been? Law leading to politics I guess as I've always wanted to make a difference and come from a family with a strong tradition of public service. And if Plan B was needed now? Assuming world domination or prime minister were unavailable to me I'd think of some sort of advocacy role and if not, there's always busking!

Liz Kay, Foundation Dean and Professor at Peninsula Dental School and Academic Director of Dental Public Health for NHS Devon, Plymouth and Torbay

Well, my preferred Plan B would have been 'rock star' – but given that I can't sing, play an instrument (except classical piano) or dance, this plan was not really an option! The serious Plan B was law. Not only did I rather fancy the idea of myself in the pigtail wig and sweeping gown, but I think my love of sifting evidence, arguing my case and clear decision-making might have made me rather happy in that profession.

Had Plan B worked and had I been successful in it, I could have perhaps ended up as a judge, which I can't help thinking would be a fantastically interesting gallop out for one's analytical skills, moral attitudes and sense of fairness. But actually, all these attributes are needed in dentistry and I wouldn't change what I do for the world.

Chris Orr, Course Director for Advanced Dental Seminars and cosmetic dentist

This is actually a difficult question for me to answer, because there wasn't a 'Plan B' when I applied to university. When it came to choosing careers at school, I realised that I didn't want a career in medicine and that my poor mathematical skills ruled out engineering. With the school's standard recommendations ruled out, it was a difficult choice. I settled on dentistry with a thought that if I didn't like it, I'd find something different to do. Fortunately for me I loved it, so the need to find a Plan B never arose.

If I left dentistry tomorrow, there are probably few things I could do. Being an enthusiastic customer in pubs and restaurants does not qualify me to start running one of my own ... I'd be tempted to try and make it as a professional photographer.

I enjoyed the intercalated year I spent learning about research and the science that underpins our profession. If dentistry had not worked out, I probably would have taken refuge in a lab somewhere and would now be tinkering away contentedly.

And now? If I left dentistry tomorrow, there are probably few things I could realistically do. Being an enthusiastic customer in pubs and restaurants does not qualify me to start running one of my own. I'd be tempted to try to make it as a professional photographer, as that is something I really enjoy when I have some spare time. However, when your hobby becomes your job, it somehow becomes a lot less fun.

Today I am lucky to have two jobs that I enjoy equally: my clinical practice and my work as an educator. Maybe teaching was my Plan B all along?

What is your plan B? What career would you have chosen if you hadn't chosen dentistry? Email the News Editor, Kate Quinlan, on k.quinlan@nature.com with details of what you are doing now and your plan B!