General Dental Council

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The General Dental Council (GDC) is a United Kingdom organisation which regulates all dental professionals in the country. Established in 1956 by an amendment to the Dentists Act 1948, now updated in the Dentists Act 1984, it keeps an up-to-date register of all qualified dentists and other dental care professionals such as: dental hygienists, dental therapists, dental nurses, dental technicians and clinical dental technicians.[1] It aims to protect the general public from unqualified dental professionals.

Its headquarters are in the City of Westminster, London.[2]

The General Dental Council’s mission statement is:

  • To protect patients
  • To promote confidence in dental professionals
  • To be at the forefront of health care regulation

The GDC is tasked with ensuring that all dental professionals maintain up to date knowledge, controlling the quality of dental education in the country, ensuring a proper quality of care is given to the patients, and helping any patient who has questions or complaints. It is meant to act as a bridge of communication between the government, public and the dental professionals.

The General Dental Council unfortunately has its problems. It has recently been threatened with a Judicial Review by the British Dental Association, the trade union and representative body of UK dentists. In addition to this, Dental Protection Limited have been highly critical of the way in which the GDC approach the Fitness to Practice Proceedings that are the disciplinary hearings Dentists have to undergo.

The Professional Standards Authority (the General Dental Council's own regulator) have also been highly critical of the GDC in recent months.


The Council was originally set up in 1956 with 50 members but has been restructured on a couple of occasions, with the number of members decreasing each time. On 1 October 2009, a smaller fully appointed Council took office with 24 members and a balance of 12 lay and 12 professional. Qualified dentist Kevin O’Brien was elected Chair of the GDC on 21 September 2011.

Within a few years further restructuring occurred. From 1 October 2013 the Council would consist of 12 members who are all appointed: 6 registrants and 6 lay members.[3] The changes were specified in the General Dental Council (Constitution) (Amendment) Order 2012 that was made in July 2012. The new Council took office on 1 October 2013, supported by other new governance arrangements.[4]

The Council is led by the first appointed Chair of the GDC, Bill Moyes. Mr Moyes currently holds non-executive directorships with the Office of Fair Trading, the Priory Hospital Group, and the Legal Services Board. He is a trustee of the Catholic Trust of England and Wales and Chairman of the Board of Governors of Heythrop College, a constituent college of the University of London. He was previously Executive Chairman of Monitor, the independent regulator of NHS Foundation Trusts from 2004-2010 and Director General of the British Retail Consortium from 2000–2003.

Registration of dental care professionals[edit]

The professions that the GCD include in the dental care professionals group are: dental nurse, dental technician, dental therapist, dental hygienist, orthodontic therapist and clinical dental technician.[5]

On 31 July 2006 it became possible for dental nurses to voluntarily join the GDC register and in July 2008 it became mandatory requirement.[6]

Overseas Registration Exam[edit]

The Overseas Registration Exam (ORE) is administered by the GDC, and is designed to test the knowledge, skills and professionalism of candidates against the standard expected of graduate dentists on first registration with the General Dental Council (GDC).[7] This means that UK graduates and overseas dentists are expected to have the same basic level of knowledge and skills.

The ORE has two parts which must be taken – and passed – in order. The purpose of Part 1 is to test the candidates’ application of knowledge to clinical practice and Part 2 is designed for candidates to demonstrate practical clinical skills.

Other UK healthcare regulators[edit]

The Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care (PSA), is an independent body accountable to the UK Parliament, which promotes the health and wellbeing of the public and oversees the nine UK healthcare regulators. These are:


  1. ^ "About us: Who we regulate". General Dental Council. Retrieved 2 August 2014. 
  2. ^ "Contact us". General Dental Council. Retrieved 9 August 2014. 
  3. ^ "About us: Who are we: the council". General Dental Council. Retrieved 9 August 2014. 
  4. ^ "Review of the Recruitment of the Council 2013". General Dental Council. Retrieved 9 August 2014. 
  5. ^ "Dental professionals: Apply for registration". General Dental Council. Retrieved 9 August 2014. 
  6. ^ "Internal Caseworker Guidance: Dental nurse". UK Government. December 2007. Retrieved 9 August 2014. 
  7. ^ "Dental professionals: Overseas registration exam". General Dental Council. Retrieved 9 August 2014. 

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