Thank you for your interest in the College of General Dentistry, which will be fully activated on 1 July 2021. This section aims to answer questions about:

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 defined by the World Dental Federation as being:

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.

Oral health is essential to general health and wellbeing at every stage of life; it should be a right not a privilege.

Modern dentistry aims to assist patients and encourage other members of the public in attaining and maintaining oral health throughout life. Oral health is best attained and maintained by the prevention or oral and dental disease through:

  • Good quality, twice daily, personal hygiene – brushing and cleaning.
  • A healthy, low sugar diet, avoiding snacks between meals.
  • No smoking or tobacco chewing.
  • Limited consumption of alcohol.
  • Continuous, ongoing care by dental healthcare professionals.
  • Being aware of, and acting quickly to resolve dental problems.

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

The College of General Dentistry is developing new career pathways and postgraduate opportunities for all those who provide primary care dentistry. These will encourage the provision of:

  • Patient education – enabling individuals to understand dental problems in the context of their general health and wellbeing
  • Instruction in self-help – empowering patients in the ownership of their own oral health
  • Prevention – supporting personal hygiene and care
  • Early diagnosis – providing opportunity to reverse damage caused by initial disease
  • Patient-centred care – according to individuals’ needs and wishes
  • Minimum intervention – targeted, effective care, avoiding overtreatment
  • ‘Teeth for life’ – the goal of modern dentistry
  • Dental attractiveness – your smile, as a window to the best of you

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