GDC speaks out on direct-to-consumer orthodontics

The General Dental Council (GDC) has published new guidance relating to direct-to-consumer orthodonticsThe General Dental Council (GDC) has published new guidance relating to direct-to-consumer orthodontics. 

As interest in remote orthodontic treatment spikes, the GDC has advised dentists on how to exercise their clinical judgement.

The GDC statement sits on three main requirements:

  1. In line with current guidance and training, clinical judgements on the suitability of a proposed orthodontic course must be based on a full assessment of the patient’s oral health. At present, there is no effective substitute for a physical, clinical examination as that assessment. A dentist may rely upon information from another source to inform their own clinical judgement. However the responsibility for that judgement rests wholly with the prescribing dentist
  2. Direct interaction between patient and practitioner – whether in person or remotely – is essential for providing patients with the opportunity to ask questions, provide valid and informed consent, and be satisfied that the course of treatment proposed is likely to meet their needs and expectation
  3. Finally, patients must know the full name of the dental professional responsible for their treatment and be able to make direct contact with that person if they need to.

Support innovation

Stefan Czerniawski is GDC executive director of strategy.

‘Traditionally, healthcare is delivered in person; patient and clinician sitting in the same room discussing treatment options and also agreeing on a way forward,’ he said.

‘New technology is challenging that norm and we support innovation wherever it safely brings benefits to the patient.

‘But safety is absolutely key. New ways of doing things must not compromise well-established safety measures, which are designed to protect patients.’

Professional guidance

He added: ‘Our statement highlights a number of issues that dental professionals working in remote models of treatment will need to consider.

‘One of the main things to remember though, as is the case in any other setting, it remains the treating dentist who is responsible for ensuring they have met all of the standards for the dental team.’

In addition to the statement, the GDC also published guidance for dental professionals in exercising professional judgement. It can be found here.

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