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Dental regulation

We believe patients and practitioners deserve an effective and efficient dental regulator and we are campaigning for 'right-touch' regulation (as outlined by the PSA): proportionate, consistent, targeted, transparent, accountable and agile.

What we want

In the UK, all dentists and dental care professionals are required by law to be a registrant of the General Dental Council (GDC), the regulatory body for dentistry.

We believe patients and practitioners deserve an effective and efficient dental regulator. 

We support the principles outlined by the PSA for 'right-touch' regulation: proportionate, consistent, targeted, transparent, accountable and agile.


Improving public safety and confidence: GDC strategy consultation

The GDC has been working to change its tone and approach towards the dental profession, and its consultation on the ‘Corporate strategy for 2020-2022: working with the dental team for public safety and confidence’ shows a number of proposals for future work to improve its approach to regulation. 

We have provided a detailed response on behalf of our members.

Our response highlights the positive current approaches being taken by the GDC, including the wish to empower registrants to make clinical decisions without fear of inappropriate enforcement action, fighting the climate of fear and defensive dentistry, the work on moving upstream, professionalism and engagement with the profession.

We do, however, outline our concerns about a continuing lack of transparency from the GDC, and we have said the strategy document lacks clarity on outlining any detail on the need for the expenditure it was consulting on. 

We also raise concerns about GDC outstepping its remit, particularly in regard to initiatives that we see as a link to workforce planning. 

In terms of good news, the consultation declares an intention to reduce the GDC’s Annual Retention Fee (ARF) for dentists; we have long argued the fee is inappropriate. We await the GDC’s decision on this in October. 

We are very pleased to see that the possibility of paying the ARF in instalments is being further considered, which would greatly help newer dentists, who are facing high levels of debt on graduating and combined with high-costs for their indemnity, as well as for their annual GDC fees, at a time when they have not yet started fully earning.

We’ve also made comments on the need for the issue of stress for dentists to be added as an additional objective and tackled.

The future of dental regulation 

Improvement of the regulatory system remains a core issue for us. 

Since the low points of 2014 and 2015, the GDC has endeavored to improve its processes, and there have also been significant changes in its senior management team and in some policy approaches.

The area of fitness to practise (FTP), however, continues to fail some PSA requirements, and members affected continue to tell us of long delays or the use of inexperienced lawyers or inappropriate expert witnesses. 

The Government had announced, at the end of 2015, its intention to consult on a complete shake-up of the healthcare regulatory system. Due to Brexit, this work has been on the backburner. 

However, a consultation was finally run at the end of 2017; read our response. The government responded in July 2019, with some positive and some less positive proposals on which we await future consultation.

In the meantime, we have welcomed the GDC’s work to improve communication with the profession, as well as improved patient information on the GDC website, denoting what the regulator can and cannot do, where the most appropriate place for a complaint is, and some support mechanisms for registrants going through the processes. 

The profession-wide complaints handling initiative, facilitated by the GDC and including professional organisations and indemnity providers as well as other regulatory bodies has developed materials aimed at reducing complaints being sent to the GDC by encouraging in-practice procedures. 


Regulation of dental practices across the UK

Dental practices also come under the independent regulators of health and adult social care:

Through the BDA's national offices, we campaign for better regulation in each of the UK's countries. 

​Working for you

We will continue to campaign for better regulation. If you'd like to be kept up to date with our progress:


Through our policy and campaigning work, we ensure that the concerns of all sections of the profession are raised and that dentists' voices are heard at a national level: join us.​​