Making dentistry safer

shutterstock_92524348The British Society of Paediatric Dentistry welcomes new initiatives to safeguard children and vulnerable people.

Two changes to help promote the welfare of young dental patients are welcomed by the British Society of Paediatric Dentistry (BSPD). The first is the launch of new national standards for the use of conscious sedation in the delivery of dental care.

Conscious sedation

The use of conscious sedation for the treatment of anxious patients is vital for paediatric dentists and the BSPD has been concerned at regional inequalities in accessing these services.

The new national standards have been produced by the Intercollegiate Advisory Committee for Sedation in Dentistry (IACSD) and define the education and training required by those who work in sedation teams, as well as settings where conscious sedation should take place.

Of significance to paediatric dentistry is in children under 12 years of age whose oral health needs cannot be met with care under local analgesia; inhalation sedation should now be referred to a specialist sedation team for assessment.

Janice Fearne, president of the BSPD, was at the launch at the Faculty of Dental Surgery of the Royal College of Surgeons along with Isabelle Holroyd, the BSPD’s representative on the IACSD working group.

Dr Fearne welcomed the improvement in patient safety that the new standards would help bring about. She highlighted that in the short term, there might be a pressure on services because more children will be referred into hospital.

‘We will also need to ensure that there is increased availability of accredited courses, which will allow those currently providing in-house training to remain up to date themselves’.

Dr Fearne continued: ‘BSPD welcomes the strong focus on patient safety and recognises that our challenge now is to work with other special interest groups and those commissioning paediatric dental sedation services to support the implementation of these important recommendations’.

Safeguarding the young

The second important change is from the General Dental Council (GDC), which has announced that  ‘safeguarding children and young people’ is to be included as a recommended CPD topic for dental professionals.

Jenny Harris

Jenny Harris, a member of the BSPD, was the chair of the working party for Child Protection and the Dental Team, and welcomed the change. She and other members of the BSPD have been pressing for safeguarding to be made a CPD topic.

The GDC already lists several ‘highly recommended’ topics as part of verifiable CPD. They are: medical emergencies, disinfection and decontamination, and radiography and radiation protection (or materials and equipment for dental technicians).

The GDC also lists the ‘recommended topics’ of legal and ethical issues, complaints handling, and oral cancer: improving early detection. Safeguarding children, young people and vulnerable adults have now been added to this list. Recommended topics may be either verifiable or non-verifiable CPD.   

Claire Stevens, spokesperson for the BSPD, said: ‘Both these developments are important and will have an impact on the way we manage and treat children we care for. In a year when the theme of the 25th congress of the International Association of Paediatric Dentistry is “The Voice of the Child”, we are pleased to see sedation services will be more standardised and that the GDC is placing greater emphasis on safeguarding’.

The document, Standards for Conscious Sedation in the Provision of Dental Care, can be found at The GDC’s guidance on CPD requirements for dental professionals has been updated to reflect the additional topics, and can be downloaded from the GDC website.

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