For patients and public

Thank you for your interest in the College of General Dentistry. Below you’ll find a wealth of information on oral health, patient care and the role of the College.

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 of 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 aims 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 their advancement and the advancement of their profession.

 Colleges, as independent bodies fulfil many roles, including:

  • Defining and promoting career pathways for all members
  • Setting and maintaining evidence-based standards
  • Publishing contemporary clinical guidelines
  • Promoting risk-based clinical care
  • Encouraging and providing continuing professional development – lifelong learning
  • Providing independent, objective, authoritative advice and opinion on behalf of 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 did not have its own College. The College of General Dentistry has been created to address this. One of the College’s priorities is to achieve Royal Charter status.

Faculties of Dental Surgery, developed in the Royal Surgical Colleges in London, Edinburgh and Glasgow, largely comprise hospital and academic dentists and focus on dental specialties, such as oral surgery and orthodontics.

The Faculty of General Dental Practice (UK), was formerly hosted by the Royal College of Surgeons of England, and was for all general dental practitioners, with a focus on everyday dentistry. It achieved much excellent work in its relatively short history. However, what was needed was an independent, UK-wide College for all members of the dental team, including dentists, dental therapists, dental hygienists, clinical dental technicians, orthodontic therapists, dental nurses, and dental technicians. The College of General Dentistry is this College.

The  Faculty of General Dental Practice(UK) separated away from the Royal College of Surgeons of England to form the core membership of the College of General Dentistry.     

What impact does the College of General Dentistry have?

The impact of the College of General Dentistry is considerable.

  • The College is developing its collaboration with the dental regulator, the General Dental Council to promote professionalism and ethical practice, building trust and confidence in the profession and all its services.
  • The College works with the UK’s four Chief Dental Officers and Departments of Health, specifically to enhance NHS services, reduce oral health inequalities and improve access to dental care amongst those who need it most.
  • The College works with all associations for oral healthcare professionals to enhance the standing of dentistry as a valued and highly regarded profession. Also, we are part of a collective effort to change traditional public attitudes to dentistry and oral health.
  • The College works with all other stakeholders in dentistry and organisations across healthcare, with the aim of dentistry becoming an integral element of comprehensive healthcare.
  • The College promotes carbon-neutral oral healthcare.
  • The College expects its members to adhere to a code of conduct and encourage evidence-based practice, using modern approaches, technologies and techniques aimed at safe, effective patient-centred care.
  • The College promotes lifelong professional advancement, underpinned by a commitment to continuous quality improvement to ensure, as standard, world-class, state-of-the-art patient care.
  •  The College promotes and pursues research and innovation of international standing in dentistry to work towards excellence in oral healthcare.

The College sets out to integrate and harmonize all the above for general dentistry across the UK, creating an environment in which it aims to greatly improve, if not transform, public engagement and attitudes to oral health and dental care.    

How is the College sensitive to the needs and expectations of patients?

The interests of patients always come first. To do this the College:

  • Listens to patients and patient groups and responds to expressed needs and concerns.
  • Understands and adapts to changing patterns of disease and population demographics.
  • Conducts and acts on research findings on the needs and expectations of patients.
  • Maintains and promotes a robust policy on equality, diversity and inclusivity.
  • Works with all partners and stakeholders in identifying and addressing unfair and avoidable differences in oral healthcare between different groups within society -oral health inequalities.
  • Works with other healthcare Colleges to identify and address deficiencies in holistic care, specifically for older patients, patients with special needs and in those in long term and terminal care.   

Facts & figures

An extensive and useful resource covering dental professionals and services in the UK

Patient care

Information on dental well-being, dental attractiveness and emergency care for all patients

Other sources of information

A number of organisations engaged in dental services and support publish useful information