Descriptions of Registered Dental Roles

General Dental Surgeon

Dentists can carry out all of the treatments mentioned under Dental and Orthodontic Therapist/Hygienist/Clinical Dental Technician.

They also diagnose disease, prepare comprehensive treatment plans (this is a ‘strategic’ role as a treatment plan can be taken to any appropriate DCP — dentists are not the only dental-health professionals to plan how to deliver care, but they have an overall long-term responsibility for the treatment) prescribe and provide endodontic treatment on adult teeth, prescribe and provide fixed orthodontic treatment, prescribe and provide fixed and removable prostheses, carry out oral surgery, carry out periodontal surgery, extract permanent teeth, prescribe and provide crowns and bridges, carry out treatment on patients who are under general anaesthesia, give inhalational and intravenous conscious sedation, prescribe drugs as part of dental treatment, prescribe and interpret radiographs. An additional skill which a dentist could develop during their career provision of implants.

Ref ScopeofpracticeApril2009[1].pdf

Dental Therapist

Dental therapists are registered dental professionals who carry out certain items of dental treatment under prescription from a dentist.

Dental therapy covers the same areas as dental hygiene, but dental therapists also carry out direct restorations on permanent and primary teeth carry out pulpotomies on primary teeth extract primary teeth place pre-formed crowns on primary teeth plan the delivery of a patient’s care. Additional skills which dental therapists could develop during their careers include administering inhalational sedation varying the detail of a prescription but not the direction of a prescription prescribing radiographs carrying out tooth whitening to the prescription of a dentist removing sutures after the wound has been checked by a dentist Dental therapists do not carry out a patient’s initial diagnosis or take overall responsibility for planning a patient’s treatment. They do not undertake any of the skill areas described in the rest of this document as being within the roles of the dental technician, clinical dental technician or dentist.


Dental Hygienist

Dental hygienists are registered dental professionals who help patients maintain their oral health by preventing and treating gum disease and promoting good oral health practice.

They carry out treatment under prescription from a dentist. Dental hygienists provide dental hygiene care to a wide range of patients plan the delivery of care for patients to improve and maintain their periodontal health obtain a detailed dental history from patients and evaluate their medical history complete periodontal xamination and charting and use indices to screen and monitor periodontal disease provide preventive oral care to patients and liaise with dentists over the treatment of caries, periodontal disease and tooth wear undertake supragingival and subgingival scaling and root debridement using manual and powered instruments use appropriate anti-microbial therapy to manage plaque related diseases adjust restored surfaces in relation to periodontal treatment apply topical treatments and fissure sealants give patients advice on how to stop smoking take, process and interpret various film views used in general dental practice give infiltration and inferior dental block analgesia place temporary dressings and recement crowns with temporary cement take impressions identify anatomical features, recognise abnormalities and interpret common pathology, and carry out oral cancer screening if necessary, refer patients to other healthcare professionals placing rubber dam.  Additional skills a dental hygienist might develop during their career include tooth whitening to the prescription of a dentist prescribing radiographs administering inhalational sedation removing sutures after the wound has been checked by a dentist Dental hygienists do not diagnose disease restore teeth carry out pulp treatments adjust unrestored surfaces extract teeth as these skills are reserved to dental therapists and dentists. They do not undertake any of the skill areas being reserved to dental technicians, clinical dental technicians or dentists.


Oral Health Educator

Oral Health Educators are registered dental nurses with additional qualifications…….

Dental Nurse

Dental Nurses make up the clinical and administrative support team working with the dentists, therapists and hygienists and coordinating appointments for patients.

Dental nurses are registered dental professionals who provide clinical and other support to other registrants and patients. Dental nurses prepare and maintain the clinical environment, including the equipment carry out infection-control procedures to prevent physical, chemical and microbiological contamination in the surgery or laboratory record dental charting carried out by other appropriate registrants prepare, mix and handle dental materials provide chairside support to the operator during treatment keep full and accurate patient records prepare equipment, materials and patients for dental radiography process dental radiographs monitor, support and reassure patients give appropriate advice to patients support the patient and their colleagues if there is a medical emergency make appropriate referrals to other health professionals. Additional skills dental nurses could develop during their careers include further skills in oral health education and oral health promotion, assisting in the treatment of patients who are under conscious sedation further skills in assisting in the treatment of patients with special needs intra-oral photography shade taking placing rubber dam, measuring and recording plaque indices pouring, casting and trimming study models removing sutures after the wound has been checked by a dentist applying fluoride varnish as part of a programme which is overseen by a consultant in dental public health or a registered specialist in dental public health constructing occlusal registration rims and special trays repairing the acrylic component of removable appliances tracing cephalographs Additional skills on prescription taking radiographs to the prescription of a dentist applying topical anaesthetic to the prescription of a dentist constructing mouthguards and bleaching trays to the prescription of a dentist constructing vacuum formed retainers to the prescription of a dentist taking impressions to the prescription of a dentist or a CDT (where appropriate). Dental nurses do not diagnose disease or treatment plan. All other skills are reserved to one or more of the other registrant groups . ScopeofpracticeApril2009[1].pdf

Specialist Practitioner

As well as the dentists and dental care professionals Registers, the General Dental Council holds lists of dental specialists. Any registered dentist can work in a particular field of dentistry (such as orthodontics or oral surgery), but only those on GDC specialist lists can call themselves a ‘specialist’. These dentists have met certain requirements and been given the right  to use the title ‘specialist’.

You can search for a specialist using the GDC Register search.

What fields can dentists specialise in?

There are 13 specialist lists. Dentists on these lists have been granted entry because they have met certain minimum standards of training. The routes for entry are determined by European and GDC regulations. We have lists for:

Special Care Dentistry:

This is concerned with the improvement of the oral health of individuals and groups in society who have a physical, sensory, intellectual, mental, medical, emotional or social impairment or disability or, more often, a combination of these factors. It pertains to adolescents and adults.

Oral Surgery:

This deals with the treatment and ongoing management of irregularities and pathology of the jaw and mouth that require surgical intervention.  This includes the specialty previously called Surgical Dentistry.


This is the development, prevention, and correction of irregularities of the teeth, bite and jaw.

Paediatric dentistry:

This is concerned with comprehensive therapeutic oral health care for children from birth through adolescence, including care for those who demonstrate intellectual, medical, physical, psychological and/or emotional problems.


This is concerned with the cause, diagnosis, prevention and treatment of diseases and injuries of the tooth root, dental pulp, and surrounding tissue.



The diagnosis, treatment and prevention of diseases and disorders (infections and inflammatory) of the gums and other structures around the teeth



The replacement of missing teeth and the associated soft and hard tissues by prostheses (crowns, bridges, dentures) which may be fixed or removable, or may be supported and retained by implants.


Restorative dentistry:

This deals with the restoration of diseased, injured, or abnormal teeth to normal function. Includes all aspects of Endodontics, Periodontics and Prosthodontics.


Dental Public Health:

This is a non-clinical specialty involving the science and art of preventing oral diseases, promoting oral health to the population rather than the individual. It involves the assessment of dental health needs and ensuring dental

services meet those needs.


Oral Medicine:

Concerned with the oral health care of patients with chronic recurrent and medically related disorders of the mouth and with their diagnosis and non- surgical management.


Oral Microbiology:

Diagnosis and assessment of facial infection – typically bacterial and fungal disease. This is a clinical specialty undertaken by laboratory based personnel who provide reports and advice based on interpretation of microbiological samples.


Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology:

Diagnosis and assessment made from tissue changes characteristic of disease of the oral cavity, jaws and salivary glands. This is a clinical specialty undertaken by laboratory based personnel.


Dental and Maxillofacial Radiology:

Involves all aspects of medical imaging which provide information about anatomy, function and diseased states of the teeth and jaws.



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Last Modified: Aug 14, 2017 @ 12:10 pm