Published on April 11, 2012

Debate: Direct access to dental hygienists; for and against

As many of you have probably heard and read about in recent weeks, the GDC are planning to allow direct access to dental hygienists and other DCPs. So the question on everyone’s lips is, what will this mean for the dental team and their patients?

Currently, both the ‘Standards Guidance’ and ‘Scope of Practice’ state that all members of the dental team must work under the prescription of a dentist. Meaning, dental professionals are able to follow a treatment plan prescribed by dentists, but they are not allowed to diagnose any problems the patient is facing. The proposed change will mean that patients can go directly to a DCP who will be able to examine and diagnose dental problems without the guidance or referral from a dentist.

Those campaigning FOR the change, such as The Direct Access Action Group, argue it will benefit both the patients and the whole dental team. The changes will help save time, allowing patients to access specialist help much faster, in comparison to the current system. The dental team will also benefit from the increased time saving, as it will provide more room for additional patients to join practices and allow more dental advice to be given to patients.

However, in contrast those arguing AGAINST the proposed notion have stated that the lack of patient knowledge will mean the current system is unlikely to radically change. For example, patients are still likely to visit their dentist first, before later making an appointment with a dental hygienist or therapist, as they are unaware of the differences between dental professionals. On the other hand, campaigners for the change, would counteract this argument, stating that simple education from the dental team will eradicate such problems.

Whilst the debate continues, the Direct Access Task and Finish Group are planning to analyse robust evidence from several key stakeholders, before coming to a final decision on 2 July 2012. For those of you interested in having your say in a ‘call for ideas’ questionnaire, head to the GDC website here We’d also love to hear your views, are you for or against the change? Comment below or join in the conversation on Twitter, by tweeting to @stockdalemartin.


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2 comments on “Debate: Direct access to dental hygienists; for and against”

  1. Heya i'm for the first time here. I found this board and I to find It really useful & it helped me out much. I'm hoping to offer something again and aid others such as you aided me.

  2. dental on July 6th, 2012 at 11:31 AM
  3. Hi there,

    We're glad you found the blog helpful – always great to hear feedback, you can also follow us on Twitter @stockdalemartin for more dental information and posts.


    The StockdaleMartin Team

  4. StockdaleMartin on July 10th, 2012 at 12:07 PM

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