Making a complaint to your dental professional
It is important that dental patients give feedback about their experiences, so that services know what they are doing well and where they can improve.
Dental professionals and practices will have an established procedure for handling feedback and complaints from patients which they must follow. Organisations across dentistry have developed some principles of good feedback and handling any concerns raised in the dental practice which you can find on our website.
If you are not happy with the treatment or service you have had, it is usually best to tell the practice directly that you're unhappy, and give them a chance to put things right. They may be able to sort out the problem there and then.
If an informal approach doesn't solve the problem, ask for a copy of their complaints handling procedure. All NHS and private dental practice must have one.
If the problem is so serious that you think the dental professional could cause significant harm to patients, colleagues or the general public, or undermine public confidence in the dental profession, you can raise your concerns with us.
If you had NHS treatment
If you would like support to make a complaint, there are organisations that can help.
- If you are in England, you can get help from an NHS Complaints Advocate. Contact your local Healthwatch to find out who provides Independent Health Complaints Advocacy in your local area.
- If you are in Scotland, contact the Patient Advice and Support Service.
- If you are in Wales, contact Advocacy Support Cymru.
- If you are in Northern Ireland, contact the Patient and Client Council.
Citizens Advice Bureau also provides information and advice about making complaints.
If your treatment was provided by the NHS, you can contact the NHS if you would rather not go directly to the practice. You can either raise a concern with the practice where you received your treatment or NHS (but not both).
If you are unhappy with the outcome with either the practice or NHS, then you should contact your local Ombudsman. The Ombudsman makes the final decision on complaints that have not been resolved by the practice or NHS.
- The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (England);
- The Northern Ireland Public Service Ombudsman;
- The Public Service Ombudsman (Wales);
- The Scottish Public Service Ombudsman.
If you had private treatment
If you have already made a formal approach to the practice, and the problem has not been resolved, you can contact the Dental Complaints Service (DCS).
The DCS provides a free and impartial service to help private dental patients and dental professionals to settle complaints about private dental care fairly and efficiently.
The DCS can impartially assist you with your complaint if you would like an apology, a refund or a contribution to the cost of further treatment. They cannot deal with claims for compensation, or with complaints about dental plans.
If your private treatment was through a dental plan, you should contact your plan provider, as they will have a complaints process.