UK: Dental Brief

Last Updated: 31 October 2011
Article by Jenin Khanam

Tooth Whitening - Clarified Briefing note

The Council of the European Union has approved the amendments to the cosmetic products directive. The Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety has confirmed that the maximum concentration of 0.1% of hydrogen peroxide is considered safe and can be to used in tooth whitening products.

Further, the use of tooth whitening products containing more than 0.1% and up to 6% of hydrogen peroxide is safe provided:

  • It is sold to dentists only for their use or under their direct supervision at first instance (and may afterwards be provided to consumers to complete the cycle of use);
  • The product must not be used by any persons under the age of 18.

The amendments to the Directive will provided much needed clarification for dental practitioners as well as the general public.

Incorporated Associates

Legislation in force from 7 November 2011 means that incorporated associates will lose their NHSPS entitlements. However there is a small window of opportunity if the incorporated associate 'de-incorporates' by 6 November. Any incorporated associate who does this will continue to be a scheme member for GDS/PDS income.

NQ Dentist suspended for reinserting tooth from a surgical waste bin

A newly qualified dentist has been suspended pending a Primary Care Trust's internal investigations and performance review.

The dentist took out the patient's wrong tooth, retrieved it from a surgical waste bin and stitched it back in. However, to add insult to injury, the dentist failed to take out the patient's original rotten tooth. The patient was admitted to Musgrove Park Hospital on the following day for an emergency operation where both her rotten and her reinserted tooth were removed.

The case has been referred to Somerset PCT for investigation and its findings may be referred to the General Dental Council for any action it may wish to take.

Office of Fair Trading ("OFT") investigates Dental Market

The Office of Fair Trading has launched a new market study which will examine the Private and NHS Dentistry market. The study will focus on:

  • how dentistry services are sold;
  • whether patients are given appropriate information to choose between Dental Practices;
  • the types of treatments on offer;
  • the different payments in context of both NHS and Private Dentistry;
  • how easy it is to change dentists
  • whether the current system for customer redress works;  professional restrictions on direct access to specialists and providers of ancillary service such as hygienists;
  • whether there are any restrictions for new practices entering into either a Private or NHS funded market.

Sonya Branch the OFT Senior Director for Services Infrastructure and Public Markets said "Patients appear to be confused about the prices they are being charged, and concerns have been raised that they may not be getting sufficient information or adequate choice over the dental treatments they receive ... we suggest this is a good time to examine whether competition is working effectively to drive up quality of Private and NHS Dental Services and deliver better value for money for consumers".

The OFT plans to complete the study by March 2011 and is seeking representation from dentistry providers and trade bodies. Any parties interested in contributing towards the study should email

CQC review confirms failure

The House of Commons Health Select Committee report published on 14 September 2011 criticises the distortion of the CQC's priorities for statutory deadlines to register dentists and brands as "astonishing" that small dental practices are subject to the same processes as large hospitals.

The report mirrors concerns expressed by the BDA and argues that the CQC must accept responsibility for its own poor handling of registration. It found that CQC's priorities became distorted by the statutory deadline for registration and led directly to a drop of 70% in inspection activity during the second half of 2010-2011.

A balance between compliance and registration activity will remain an issue for CQC and CQC must demonstrate that it is prioritising compliance in favour of registration activity. Dr John Milne, Chair of BDA's General Dental Practice Committee, said "This report is a damning indictment of the debacle that has been the registration of dentists by the Care Quality Commission.

It reflects the BDA's own criticisms, pointing to the flaws in the timing and methodology of dental registration, and begs serious questions about farcical processes that dentists have been forced to endure".

The Government is reviewing the Regulations and the Committee hopes that all future registrations can be conducted in a proportionate manner within adequate time frames.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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Jenin Khanam
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