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Patient safety assured with dental care professional checks

A new piece of legislation will examine the standards of hygienists and therapists to ensure patient safety.

The Faculty of General Dental Practice (FGDP) has announced its plans to undertake rigorous checks of dental care professionals (DCPs) offering alternate courses of treatment from routine family dental practices.

In a recent change of policy the General Dental Council (GDC) decided to permit dental hygienists and therapists direct access to patients without a prescription from their regular dentist.

With clients now able to approach alternative dental health routes, it is important that standards within the industry undergo extensive checks so that patients can ensure they are seeking a legitimate source of treatment.

Dean of the FGDP Trevor Ferguson said: “We believe that while patients may consider that direct access provides benefits in terms of convenience, it is essential that continuity of care is not undermined by separating dentists and DCPs.”

An atmosphere of positive communication and shared care should be promoted to avoid fragmentation within the dental industry. Mr Ferguson added that “by establishing formal networks for providers with input from patient representatives”, dentists and DCPs can maintain a healthy relationship which will benefit the vast majority of those within the industry.

While tension may occur as dental patients replace their assigned surgeries with freelance professionals, the dental industry must become adept at moving with the times. A recent survey from Oasis Dental Care revealed that those in the 18-30 age bracket were more likely to proactively choose a course of action for their own teeth, opting for more experimental routes. However older people would stick to a traditional plan, often remaining with the same dentist for many years as a competent and reliable source of information and care.

Whichever path a patient seeks, the message of vigorous hygiene and oral health should be the same from all dentists and DCPs should be the same.

Posted by Yvonne Wallace

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