The General Dental Council (GDC) has signalled it would be willing to relax its tough stance on who should carry out tooth whitening, allowing other members of the dental team to carry out the treatment as well as dentists.
Consulting on draft guidance on the scope of practice of all members of the dental team, the GDC sets out proposals which could allow dental nurses, orthodontic therapists, dental hygienists, dental therapists, dental technicians and clinical dental technicians to carry out tooth whitening.
The draft guidance – on which all dental professionals can comment – sets out the skills dentists and dental care professionals should have on qualification, extra skills they may gain during their careers and skills that are limited to certain groups.
Currently those registered with the GDC are required to act within their competence and training.
The new proposals were drawn up by a working group of GDC members and representatives from different dental professional groups.
The guidance suggests tooth whitening is an additional skill dental care professionals can gain. But it makes it clear dentists should be involved in prescribing or supervising the treatment.
However, it also asks whether any dental care professional group should be able to carry out tooth whitening using bleaching agents at all.
The consultation also looks at whether treatments such as Botox, collagen fillers and bone harvesting should be recognised as part of dentistry.
And it asks what the GDC’s stance should be on complementary therapies and treatments such as acupuncture and hypnotherapy.
The GDC is also seeking to tighten up the wording of the Dentists Act to help clamp down on people who are not registered carrying out dental work.
Commenting on the consultation paper, a GDC spokesperson said: ‘We have so far expressed the view that only registered dentists should be offering tooth whitening treatments.
‘We have included a question in the scope of practice consultation on whether the different groups of dental care professionals should be able to undertake tooth whitening as we want to hear what the public and profession think about this.’
In October 2006, the GDC challenged for the first time the practice of non-dentists offering tooth-whitening treatments in court.
The Scope of Practice and Additional Skills consultation documents are available at www.gdc-uk.org.
The deadline for responses is May 9.