Thank you for your interest in the College of General Dentistry. We have set out our ambitions for the College in this section, together with an overview of the patient interests that we serve.

We are pleased to support the work of the Oral Health Foundation, which has been working since 1971 to promote better oral health and to provide independent and impartial advice to patients. We would encourage you to visit their website for a wealth of information on oral and dental health.

Dentistry, oral health and wellbeing

Oral health is essential to general health and wellbeing at every stage of life, with the mouth serving as a “window” to the rest of the body.

Modern dentistry exists to promote and assist individuals in attaining and maintaining oral health throughout life. This is best achieved by good personal oral health measures and a healthy, low sugar diet, supported by continuous, ongoing care by dental healthcare professionals, rather than waiting for oral and dental problems to arise.

One of the most recent definitions of dentistry is:

That element of healthcare which focusses on the prevention of oral and dental disease and the maintenance of oral health as an important contribution to general health and wellbeing.

Oral health is defined by the World Dental Federation as being:

Multi-faceted and including the ability to speak, smile, smell, taste, touch, chew, swallow and convey a range of emotions through facial expressions with confidence and without pain, discomfort and disease of the craniofacial complex

The College of General Dentistry is being established to foster excellence and confidence in oral healthcare for all.

Being a pressing priority, concurrent to producing guidance for the return to practice following the COVID pandemic, the College of General Dentistry is developing new, forward-looking career pathways and associated postgraduate opportunities for all members of the dental team who provide primary care dentistry (routine dentistry in the community). In the post-pandemic world, dentistry will be underpinned by the provision of preventatively orientated, minimum intervention, patient-centred care which aims to give patients ‘teeth for life’, with patients empowered to maintain their own oral health and, wherever possible, dental attractiveness.

What are healthcare Colleges?

Colleges in healthcare, typically Royal Colleges, are owned, run and funded by healthcare professionals for healthcare professionals, typically with invaluable lay input. Colleges, as independent, professional bodies, set evidence-based standards, publish contemporary clinical guidelines and guidance, encourage and, in many cases provide continuing professional development (lifelong learning) and define and promote career pathways for members. Also, they are an authoritative, independent, objective voice for the profession. Colleges in healthcare are distinct from the profession associations, such as the British Dental Association, which are first and foremost trade union bodies.

Why form a College of General Dentistry?

Dentistry is a long-established healthcare profession, but unlike other healthcare professions does not have its own College, let alone a Royal college. The College of Dentistry, which will hopefully be granted a Royal Charter, is being created to address this anomaly. 

Linked to dentists’ origins as barber surgeons, Faculties of Dental Surgery developed in the Royal Surgical Colleges in London, Edinburgh and Glasgow. These long-established Faculties largely comprise hospital and academic dentists and focus on matters pertaining to dental specialties, such as oral surgery and orthodontics.

The 27-year-old Faculty of General Dental Practice (UK), hosted by the Royal College of Surgeons of England (RCS Eng), is different. This UK-wide Faculty has achieved a great deal in its relatively short history. Wishing for greater independence, the Faculty now anticipates forming the core membership of the new College, subsequent to separating from the RCS Eng.

What impact will the College of General Dentistry have?

The impact of the College of General Dentistry, building on the excellent work of the Faculty of General Dental Practice (UK) and through partnership working with other organisations in dentistry and healthcare in general, will be considerable.

The College will encourage all its members to be fully up to date, using new, evidence-based techniques and technologies to best possible advantage and to engage in practice-based- and other forms of research aimed at supporting continuous quality improvement in safe, effective state-of-the-art patient care.

In addition to harmonisation all of the above for dentistry across the UK, the new College will promote professionalism and ethical practice which patients and the public can confidently trust.

In common with other Colleges in healthcare, the College of General Dentistry will enhance its impact by complementing the work of other professional organisations. The College will seek to work with the regulator for dentistry – the General Dental Council, to respect the best interests of patients and build trust in the profession and its services. The College will also seek to work with the British Dental Association and the professional bodies of all the non-dentist, dental healthcare professionals to have a suitably supported, world class dental workforce, recognised for its commitment to oral health for all. 

How will the new College be sensitive to the needs and expectations of patients?

The interests of patients will always come first. In developing strategies to ensure that the needs and expectations of patients are met, the new College plans to fully understand trends in the pattern and levels of oral and dental disease, to listen to patients, and to develop and promote the acquisition of new knowledge and skills by its members so that they may be applied in a timely, effective manner. In pursuing the best interests of patients, the College will encourage and promote systems of healthcare provision which reflects the wishes of patients and the public, address health inequalities and make best possible use of available funding. Ways need to be found for NHS and private dentistry to have complementary roles in improving and maintaining oral health and which allow the business of dentistry to thrive and develop in a fast moving biomedical science environment.

Facts and Figures

Patient Care