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Employment and registration

08 April, 2021

All dental professionals must be registered with the GDC before they can work in the UK.

This section covers what you need to know as an employer or manager of dental professionals, and where you can find key information about their registration. 


If you need information about the registration process, or need to assist a prospective member of staff with matters relating to their registration, the information linked below is the best place to start.

  • The Route to Registration questionnaire helps prospective dental professionals to determine whether they are eligible for registration or restoration to the register, and will guide them to the appropriate application form.
  • Information and resources are available for all registrants covering GDC standards and guidance; the scope of practice; guidance on indemnity and continuing professional development (CPD). Dental professionals should set up an eGDC account at the point of registration. An eGDC account can be used to renew their registration with the GDC and make continuing professional development and indemnity declarations, as well as pay the annual retention fee.

Temporary registration for visiting dentists

Temporary registration allows visiting dentists with recognised overseas qualifications who have been offered a supervised post for a limited period of training, teaching, or research purposes, to practise dentistry in the UK. Temporary registration is only available for positions in hospitals and universities, not in primary care settings. It does not lead to, and is not a step towards, full registration.

Applicants who want to become fully registered will need to apply through the usual routes and may need to sit the Overseas Registration Exam (ORE).

Employment and roles and responsibilities of student dental nurses and technicians

It is possible to employ student dental nurses or dental technicians before they are registered, provided that they are employed and enrolled or waiting to start on a recognised programme that will lead to GDC registration.

Student dental nurses and technicians will carry out much of their training in a practical workplace setting. Within two years of commencing employment at a practice, they should be studying with an approved training provider towards a recognised GDC qualification.

It is not necessary for you to let the GDC know if a student dental nurse or technician is working in your team, but it is important to understand what tasks they are able to carry out without registration, and that they are able and well-supported to complete the relevant course. It is important to try to assess a student’s aptitude and professionalism before embarking on a programme involving training costs.

Students should have appropriate training and induction for all tasks they will be expected to perform. They should understand when and how they will be supervised, and when that supervision can cease once appropriate training has been completed. This should align with the supervision required by the course. Both the GDC and awarding bodies expect that student dental nurses and dental technicians will receive support, encouragement and a wide range of experience from the workplace. In addition, a dental professional must take responsibility for direct supervision of the trainee and be accountable for that trainee up until they are granted GDC registration.

This can be made clear from the beginning in the job description and considered throughout their employment. Students should not be asked to undertake tasks before they have had the relevant training, therefore thought should be given to the scheduling of training throughout the student’s employment.

All student dental nurses or dental technicians are expected to have had all appropriate vaccinations. In addition, obtaining DBS-enhanced certification for student dental nurses and all team members who will have access to patient records, including reception staff may assist you in making safer recruitment decisions.

Dental professionals trained outside the UK

A dentist who has trained and qualified outside the European Economic Area (EEA) must pass both Parts 1 and 2 of the Overseas Registration Examination. Our website has more information about whether dental professionals will need to take the exam, and when and how to do so.

Alternatively, the Licence in Dental Surgery (Parts 1 and 2) run by the Royal College of Surgeons of England leads to registration on the basis of holding a UK qualification.

Dentists from outside the EEA who have passed either of these examinations (ORE or LDS) will also need to complete up to a year’s additional training in order to work in the NHS. Depending on the circumstances, this may be called dental foundation training, vocational training or performers list validation by assessment. It may take a dentist who is new to the UK some time to adapt to the systems and practice of dentistry in this country. Supervisors, practice managers and employers, whether in the NHS or private dentistry, should make appropriate arrangements and workloads for a person new to that environment.

Dental care professionals who have gained their qualifications outside the UK currently go through a paper-based assessment in order to register with the GDC.

All dental professionals practising in the UK must be sufficiently fluent in written and spoken English to communicate effectively with patients, their relatives, the dental team and other healthcare professionals in the UK. In some cases, this can be demonstrated in the initial application, but the GDC may require more evidence.

It is important to remember that members of the dental team will come from different cultures, backgrounds and experiences, and may need additional support settling into their professional working lives in the UK. Ideally, a comprehensive induction would set out expectations for dental professionals new to working in the UK and advise them of appropriate support available.

Understanding regulatory responsibilities

Under Standard 1.9 of the GDC’s Standards for the Dental Team, dental professionals must be familiar with, and follow, laws and regulations affecting their work. This includes, but is not limited to, those relating to data protection, employment, human rights and equality and registration with other regulatory bodies.

This extends to regulations beyond the GDC’s. For instance, the Department of Health’s memorandum on decontamination in primary care dental practices, and guidance on medical emergencies and training as issued by the Resuscitation Council.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) in England, the Health Inspectorate Wales, Healthcare Improvement Scotland and the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) in Northern Ireland, in similar but distinct ways, regulate the quality of health and social care services. Practices need to comply with their requirements and will be inspected or otherwise assessed through their processes. The NHS in all four nations of the UK similarly has requirements in place for providers of NHS care.

Dental professionals must be aware of regulations that apply to them and any changes that may occur to these regulations. You can support dental professionals in this by monitoring the relevant regulations yourself, signposting to relevant information and creating opportunities to talk about regulatory developments at, for example, team meetings, away days or clinical governance sessions. If you facilitate such meetings, it is advisable to keep a record.

It could also be useful to designate a member of the team to take responsibility for a practice policy and report on it at regular meetings. Such reports can even be developed as a training package with aims and objectives, and could qualify as a verifiable continuing professional development (CPD) activity, should it meet  the evidential requirements.

Becoming a corporate body

A dental body corporate (DBC) does not require GDC approval to set itself up as such, as the GDC is not a registrar of companies. However, a DBC that wishes to carry out the business of dentistry must satisfy the requirements of sections 40 and 43 of the Dentists Act 1984.

There are also certain circumstances in which you may need a letter of non-objection from the GDC to register the name of a dental business with Companies House; e.g. if the business name includes the words ‘dental,’ ‘dentistry,’ ‘dentist,’ ‘dental surgeon’ or ‘dental practitioner.’

Depending on the location of your business, the CQC, Healthcare Inspectorate Wales, Healthcare Improvement Scotland, or the RQIA in Northern Ireland may require an application for any changes to your regulated activities, the locations from which you provide them, or any other conditions of your registration.