Dentists work with a variety of dental care professionals (DCPs).
Many overseas graduates enquire about working in practice as a dental
hygienist to gain experience in a UK setting. All DCPs must register
with the General Dental Council and only DCPs with approved
qualifications are eligible to register. Overseas graduates cannot
register as DCPs. Trainee dental nurses are the only group of DCPs that
can work in practice without being registered with the GDC, although
they must be enrolled on a recognised training course leading to a
provide chairside assistance to the dentist as well as duties such as
sterilising instruments, mixing filling and impression materials and
some administrative duties. Qualified dental nurses may also undertake
further training to allow them to provide oral hygiene instruction, take
radiographs and assist with general anaesthetic and sedation. Dental
nurses must hold an appropriate qualification to register with the
General Dental Council – the National Vocational Qualification (Level 3)
or the National Certificate in Dental Nursing. Trainee dental nurses
can work in practice without a qualification, but they must be enrolled
on an appropriate course. More information is available from the British Association of Dental Nurses or the National Examining Board for Dental Nurses.
hygienists registered with the GDC are permitted to practise within the
UK and can only undertake treatments for which they have been formally
trained. As a general guide, hygienists undertake scaling and polishing
of teeth, the application of fluoride gels and fissure sealants and the
provision of oral hygiene instruction. Many are also trained to
administer local anaesthetic, take impressions, replace crowns
temporarily in an emergency and treat patients under conscious sedation.
Additional recognised courses to further the skills of hygienists will
Hygienists who trained and qualified outside
the EU/EEA countries are required to retrain before they are permitted
to register with the GDC. Work permits are not usually issued to this
group, so it is important that hygienists clarify their immigration
status and ability to work in the UK as a hygienist before entering the
country. The GDC and the British Society of Dental Hygiene and Therapy may be able to provide information.
dental therapists are also trained as hygienists and are able to
undertake a wider range of treatment, provided they have received the
appropriate training to demonstrate their competence. Their basic
therapy training should equip them to extract deciduous teeth, undertake
simple dental fillings and restore primary teeth by means of pulp
therapy and pre-formed crowns. Additional skills must be supported by
appropriate training. The British Association for Dental Therapists can provide more information.
majority of dental technicians provide laboratory services to the
dental profession, both in general practice and the salaried primary
dental care service. A small percentage provides assistance to
maxillofacial surgery departments in hospitals. Many technicians work
for large commercial laboratories, while a small percentage is employed
by individual dental practices. All dental technicians must be
registered with the GDC and hold an approved qualification: BTEC
National Diploma, SQA Higher National Diploma or the Degree in Dental
Technology. Their professional association is the Dental Technologists' Association.
Clinical dental technicians
to July 2006, clinical dental technicians could not work in the UK as
their qualifications were not recognised, but the GDC is currently
working with providers to develop a UK qualification. In the meantime,
clinical dental technicians with qualifications from the George Brown
College, Canada can undertake a course developed by the FGDP(UK) to
allow them to register with the GDC.
is a new DCP group and the training pathway and qualification is being
developed by the GDC and training providers. To become an orthodontic
therapist, an individual must hold a recognised qualification in dental
nursing, dental hygiene, dental therapy or dental technology and have at
least one year’s post-qualification experience. More information is
available from the GDC.