Workforce, training and education
East of England

HEE East of England


Click on the menu below to be taken to the appropriate answer to your frequently asked questions.

You can also click here for a PDF download of frequently asked questions regarding Dental Team Working answered by the General Dental Council.


1. What is DCP Registration?

DCP registration is an extension of the General Dental Council’s powers to protect patients. Statutory Registration will mean that all people responsible for patient’s clinical dental care are registered and regulated.

The GDC already registered two DCP groups (dental hygienists and dental therapists), however in addition to this they will also be registering dental nurses, dental technicians, clinical dental technicians and orthodontic therapists

Registration will mean:

  • Meeting certain criteria (such as having a qualification or being experienced at what you do) in order to get onto the register
  • Behaving in an ethical and professional way
  • Undertaking continuing professional development (CPD) to keep your knowledge and skills up to date
  • Recognition as a professional and a vital part of the dental team.

Only DCPs registered with the GDC will be able to use certain titles which are reserved for them, e.g. only those registered with the GDC will be able to call themselves dental nurses.

2. Is registration compulsory? Is it ok to work as a dental nurse, so long as I don't call myself one?

If you’re working as a dental nurse or dental technician, you have to be registered with the GDC or in training – whatever your job title. The titles “dental nurse”, “dental surgery assistant”, “dental technician” and “dental technologist” are protected by law. So if you’re not registered with the GDC and you use one of these titles, or any other title which misleadingly implies that you are, you risk prosecution in a criminal court. But that doesn’t mean that an unregistered person can just use a different job title and continue to do the work of a dental nurse or dental technician – at least, not without risking the registration of whoever is employing them. Unregistered dental nurses and dental technicians are effectively outlawed by GDC standards which make it clear that registrants – professionals who are literally signed up to the high standards set in the UK for their profession – must employ and work with appropriately registered people. If a registered dentist or dental technician employs someone to work as a dental nurse or dental technician they have a duty to ensure that that person is registered or in training. If they don’t, they risk losing their own registration. An unregistered dental nurse or dental technician is therefore a contradiction in terms. If they do find someone who is prepared to employ them as a dental nurse or dental technician, that person could in turn find their own livelihood at risk as a result of GDC fitness to practise proceedings. The bottom line is, dental nurses and dental technicians need to be registered or in training.

3. Why have you introduced registration? What are the benefits for dental care professionals?

Put very simply, we introduced compulsory registration for patient protection, so that patients can have confidence that all members of the team are properly trained and working to the same high standards set by the GDC.

Patients can also be assured that if there is a serious problem and a dentist or a dental care professional is not meeting the standards expected of them, there’s a fair way of looking into this.

Registration is not a club to join or ignore if you feel like it. As a dental nurse or dental technician who no doubt cares about standards and doing a job well, we hope you want to belong to a profession which is being properly regulated and in which standards are safeguarded, and if you regard that as a benefit that’s great. But it is actually not about benefits for anyone other than patients

4. How do I get on the register?

DCPs holding registrable qualifications will be able to apply to register. Please click here to follow the link to the online questionnaire 'Find Your Route to Registration' on the GDC’s website.

You then need to complete you application form and send it to us, along with copies of supporting documents and the registration fee. When completing your application form please remember to provide proof of your: identity; qualification and change of name (if different to that on your qualification certificate).

5. How long will it take for the GDC to process my application form?
Application for restoration as a dentist or dental care professional: 14 working days
Applications for dental nurses and technicians: 2 - 3 weeks


6. Do I need to get a health certificate?

The health certificate only needs to be completed if you work with patients, in which case it will show that you are fit to practise.

This must be completed by a dentist if she/he has worked with you for over a year, or by a medical practitioner who is not a member of your family.

7. What are the guidelines for dental nurses 'in training'?

Dental nurses are in training if they are studying for a registrable qualification in their field.

Student dental nurses

The Council has agreed, as a result of the Scope of Practice consultation undertaken in early 2008, that student dental nurses are those that:

  1. Are employed by a practice and enrolled on a training course but waiting for the course to start; or
  2. Are employed by a practice and waiting for enrolment for a training programme to open; or
  3. Have passed the examination for the National Certificate but are still completing the 24 months’ chairside experience needed to get their certificate.

In all the above cases:

  1. a. Before the student dental nurse undertakes any duties in the practice he or she must receive an appropriate induction, which must include confidentiality and health and safety in the practice;
  2. b. The student dental nurse must keep a log book of the training they receive in the practice;
  3. c. The student dental nurse must not undertake exposure prone procedures, including cleaning instruments, until they have received their appropriate vaccinations as required in the area where they practice.

A named supervising registrant must take responsibility for supervising a dental nurse in training. By undertaking this responsibility, the supervising registrant agrees to be accountable for the work of the student dental nurse.

8. Do I need to get an indemnity?

All GDC registrants need to make sure there are adequate and appropriate arrangements in place so that patients can claim any compensation they may be entitled to. The only appropriate arrangements recognised by the GDC are: dental defence organisation membership (whether their own membership or employer’s membership); professional indemnity insurance held individually or by their employer; and NHS indemnity. Anyone relying on arrangements made by their employer without arranging either a policy of their own or joining a defence organisation, has a responsibility to check the position with their employer. There is further information about professional indemnity on this website.

9. Are dental nurses covered by employer indemnity?

All registrants have an individual responsibility to ensure they have adequate indemnity cover. Many practices may have indemnity that will adequately cover their dental nurses, but it is the responsibility of the Dental nurse to be sure this is the case. Talk to your employer and be sure you are adequately covered. If you find that you are not, you should take steps to get appropriate cover.

10. Is the DCP registration fee tax deductible?

Yes, registration fees can be claimed against tax

11. Who is responsible for funding our CPD and will we be entitled to time off for it?

CPD is the responsibility of each individual registrant. Employers should understand that CPD will be compulsory and should encourage and support you in undertaking it. CPD does not need to be expensive and does not always have to mean attending structured courses. Although there are not many courses for DCPs at the moment, we expect that to change, as it did when we introduced compulsory CPD for dentists. CPD can be undertaken through reading, discussion groups and on-line learning. Some kinds of on-line learning can count as verifiable CPD. You might find that your professional association – if you are a member – has ways of helping you to meet your CPD requirements.

12. I have completed the national exam but need two years' work experience before I get my certificate - where does this leave me with registration?

The two years' chair-side experience is part of the requirement to complete the National Certificate. So, even though you have passed your exam, the fact that you are still doing your two years in the practice means that you are still a student dental nurse and can therefore work as a dental nurse. When you have completed your two years and have got your certificate, you will need to register with us straight away.

Monday, 1 June, 2020
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Monday, 1 June, 2020