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Standards for Specialty Education

In 2015, the Council adopted the Standards for Specialty Education, for use in quality assuring specialty education in the UK. The Standards set quality requirements for all UK education and training programmes leading to inclusion on one of the GDC's specialist lists.

The current edition of the Standards for Specialty Education was published in January 2019. This revision was informed by the results of a pilot quality assurance process and a public consultation.

Quality Assurance of Specialty Education and Training

Since 2019 the GDC has been quality assuring specialty training against the Standards for Specialty Education. 

The available reports can be found under the respective training commissioner or examination provider listed below:

Health Education London and Kent, Surrey and Sussex HEE LKSS quality assurance report with observations February 2022

Health Education Midlands and East

Health Education North East and North Cumbria

Health Education North West

Health Education South West, Thames Valley and Wessex 

Health Education Yorkshire and Humber

Health Education and Improvement Wales 
HEIW specialty monitoring report July 2022
HEIW quality assurance report with observations August 2021

NHS Education for Scotland NES quality assurance report March 2021NES Specialty monitoring update - February 2022.

Northern Ireland Medical and Dental Training Agency

Royal College of Pathologists


Royal College of Physicians and 
Surgeons of Glasgow

Royal College of Radiologists

Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh

Royal College of Surgeons of England

Between 2019-22 we will quality assure all dental specialty education and examination providers and in 2023 we will review the process.

Entry on to the Specialist Lists

Please refer to the Specialist Lists page for advice to registrants on joining the GDC's Specialist Lists. 

What fields can dentists specialise in?

There are 13 specialist lists. Dentists on these lists have met minimum standards of training, as determined by European and GDC regulations.

Dental and Maxillofacial Radiology

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

Dental Public Health

A non-clinical specialty involving the science and art of preventing oral diseases, promoting oral health to the population rather than the individual.

Endodontics

The cause, diagnosis, prevention and treatment of diseases and injuries of the tooth root, dental pulp, and surrounding tissue.

Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology

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

Restorative Dentistry

Involves replacing missing teeth, repairing damaged teeth and extends to rehabilitation of the whole mouth, based on the three monospecialties of prosthodontics, periodontics and endodontics

Oral Medicine

Care for oral health 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. A clinical specialty undertaken by laboratory-based personnel.

Oral Surgery

Treatment and ongoing management of irregularities and pathology of the jaw and mouth that require surgical intervention. Includes the specialty previously called Surgical Dentistry.

Orthodontics

Concerns the diagnosis, prevention, interception and treatment of irregularities of the teeth, dental occlusion (bite) and growth of the face in both children and adults.

Paediatric Dentistry

Comprehensive therapeutic oral health care for children from birth through adolescence, including care for those with physical, mental and psychological problems.

Periodontics

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

Prosthodontics

Concerns 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.

Special Care Dentistry

Concerns improvement of the oral health of individuals and groups with physical, sensory, intellectual, mental, medical, emotional or social impairment or disability.

Specialist list consultation

In January 2019, the GDC published a response to the consultation on the principles of specialist listing. We invited comment on issues relating to the system of specialist listing, namely:

  • revised purposes for specialist listing, setting out what the GDC expects listed specialties to fulfil, and criteria by which the GDC will determine which disciplines of dentistry should be listed 
  • principles for the addition and removal of specialist lists, and
  • processes for maintaining accreditation on specialist lists.

Specialty Curricula

The GDC is responsible for approving all curricula for education and training in specialist dentistry. The content of the curricula is developed by Specialty Advisory Committees (SACs) who report to the relevant Dental Faculties of the Royal Colleges. We have been working with the SACs to revise the specialty curricula and had originally envisaged new curricula would be in place by September 2022. This has now been revised to September 2023 to provide sufficient time to ensure a consistent approach across the specialties and to update training programme and associated assessments.

For guidance and information on how this may affect your training, please contact your local training programme director.

The following specialty curricula have been approved by the GDC:

Assessed applications developments 

We are currently reviewing our processes for assessed applications to enter the specialist lists, by registrants who have not successfully completed a formal specialty training post, but who have a portfolio of academic and research work that can be tested for equivalence. 

The task and finish group developments for the Specialist List Assessed Application (SLAA) route can be viewed here