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GDC publishes statement on direct-to-consumer orthodontics and supporting information for dental professionals

News

  Posted by: The Probe      13th May 2021

The General Dental Council (GDC) has today published an updated statement in relation to direct-to-consumer orthodontics which highlights issues dental professionals – particularly those working in the remote provision of orthodontics – need to consider.

The statement is based on three main requirements:

  1. In line with current authoritative clinical guidance, and orthodontic training, clinical judgements about the suitability of a proposed course of orthodontic treatment must be based on a full assessment of the patient’s oral health. At present, there is no effective substitute for a physical, clinical examination as the foundation for that assessment. Should a dentist rely upon information from another source to inform their own clinical judgement, the responsibility for that judgement rests wholly with the prescribing dentist.
  2. Direct interaction between patient and practitioner – whether in person or remotely – is essential for providing patients with the opportunity to ask questions, provide valid and informed consent, and be satisfied that the course of treatment proposed is likely to meet their needs and expectations.
  3. Patients must know the full name of the dental professional responsible for their treatment and be able to make direct contact with that person if they need to.

GDC Executive Director, Strategy, Stefan Czerniawski, said: “Traditionally, healthcare is delivered in person – patient and clinician sitting in the same room discussing treatment options and agreeing on a way forward. New technology is challenging that norm and we support innovation wherever it safely brings benefits to the patient. But safety is absolutely key and new ways of doing things must not compromise well-established safety measures which are designed to protect patients.

“Our statement highlights a number of issues that dental professionals working in remote models of treatment will need to consider. One of the main things to remember though, as is the case in any other setting, it remains the treating dentist who is responsible for ensuring they have met all of the Standards for the Dental Team.”

In addition to the statement, the GDC has also published information to support dental professionals in exercising professional judgement.

Should professionals have any questions or concerns in relation to their practice, they should seek further advice from their indemnifier or professional association. The GDC says it will continue to monitor developments in this area.

The GDC has also developed a social media toolkit to help dental practices communicate with their patients about these important issues. 

BOS Response

In response, the British Orthodontic Society (BOS) has wholeheartedly welcomed the GDC statement and accompanying guidance for both patients and professionals regarding direct-to-consumer orthodontic treatment.

BOS members have long warned of concerns about direct-to-consumer orthodontics. The most recent members’ survey from last month (April 2021) showed that 82% of members were concerned about more patients seeking DIY orthodontics during the pandemic, and 98.92% wanted to see the GDC take action.

Anjli Patel, Director of External Relations at BOS, said, “Today’s announcement is about the most fundamental element of healthcare – patient safety. We are delighted that our concerns have been heard by the GDC and acted upon. However, as the voice of orthodontics in the UK, we still have reservations about how any wrongdoing by DIY orthodontic companies could be picked up by authorities and we don’t want patients falling through regulatory cracks. Patients don’t know what they don’t know – we will endeavour to give them all the facts.”




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