A survey of more than 3,600 dental professionals has found there is increased optimism about the future of the profession over the next two years.
The research, carried out by Enventure Research on behalf of the General Dental Council (GDC), found that 37% of dental professionals are optimistic about the future of dentistry, an increase of 2% from the previous year.
Less than a third of dental professionals were pessimistic about the future of dentistry (31%, compared to 33% last year).
The annual registrant survey was sent to a representative sample of dentists and dental care professionals (DCPs) across the UK in late 2013.
The survey also included five focus groups across the UK and 24 in-depth interviews.
Confidence in regulation
The survey also found that confidence in the GDC as a regulator remains high.
More than two-thirds (67%) of the dental professionals who took part in the survey are confident that the GDC is regulating dentistry effectively (26% were not).
Some dental professionals have higher levels of confidence in the GDC than others, with 81% of dental hygienists confident in the GDC's effectiveness, compared to 57% of dental technicians.
The survey found that confidence was associated with length of time on the register, with recently registered dental professionals much more likely to be confident than those who have been on the register for longer.
Raising a concern
Nearly half of dental professionals (46%) said that they had come across an issue that they felt should have been raised as a concern.
The vast majority of dental professionals (88%) said that they knew where to raise a concern.
Dental professionals are more likely to have raised a concern to someone in their workplace (39%) than to the GDC (5%).
Providing an explanation when something has gone wrong
The vast majority (87%) of respondents felt that a dental professional was likely to provide an explanation to a patient when something had gone wrong in their care or treatment.
A similar question was asked in the GDC's 2013 patient and public survey; fewer patients than dental professionals thought that an explanation was very likely (19% of patients compared with 39% of dental professionals).
The 2013 Annual Survey of Registrants is available to read in full on the GDC website.
A set of infographics, illustrating some of the key findings from the survey, is also available on the GDC website.