Revised scope of practice registration standard published

The revised Scope of Practice standard retains the dentist as the head of a dental team.
The revised Scope of Practice standard retains the dentist as the head of a dental team.

The Dental Board of Australia has published its revised Scope of practice registration standard, which will come in to effect from 30 June 2014. To help practitioners prepare for the revised standard, the standard and associated guidelines have been published on the Board’s website.

The debate around aspects of the standard has been fierce, with concern from some dental practitioners that the old standard did not reflect the real role and value of dental auxiliaries, and with others concerned that a change may undermine the position of the dentist as head of a dental team.

Both the Australian Dental Association (ADA) and the Dental Hygienists’ Association of Australia (DHAA) have welcomed the new standard, although at first glance they appear to be welcoming different aspects of it.

The Australian Dental Association has welcomed the retention of the dentist as the clinical team leader in the delivery of dental care to the community. The DHAA has also welcomed the updated wording pointing out the Dental Board has removed the term “supervision” from the standard.

A release from the Dental Board states, “The standard has been revised to be clearer, improve consumers’ access to oral health services and provide certainty to dental practitioners on the:

scope of practice for the different dental divisions, and

level of education and training expected for each division.

Dental Board of Australia Chair, Dr John Lockwood AM, said all dental practitioners are required to use sound professional judgment to assess their own (and their colleagues’) scope of practice – and only work within their areas of education, training and competence.

“Each individual dental practitioner is responsible for the decisions, treatment and advice that they provide,” Dr Lockwood said.

The DHAA has said, “The standard and guidelines now emphasise a preventive model with direct access to primary preventive dental providers such as dental hygienists and oral health therapists working in unsupervised community settings. Dental hygienists and oral health therapists must still work in a structured professional relationship with a dentist.”

ADA President Dr Karin Alexander said the revised scope and guidelines “provides consumers with assurance that they will continue to receive high quality dental treatment, in an environment where patient safety is paramount”.

She said the decision warranted some further detailed work, but felt it was clearly positive for the dental profession and for consumers.

The current registration standard remains in place until 30 June 2014 when the revised standard comes in to effect.

Additional information on the Dental Board website:

Scope of practice registration standard (effective 30 June 2014)

Guidelines – Scope of practice registration standard

FAQ on the transition from the current to revised / new documents

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  1. Dear Editor,

    Please do not use the word ‘auxiliaries’ – this word does not appear in the National Law nor in any documents by the Dental Board of Australia. Please stop using this word as it is demeaning to registered dental practitioners – dental hygienists, dental therapists and oral health therapists.

    Kind regards, Leonie

    • Dear Professor Short, please accept our apologies. Our intention was not to demean anyone, but to keep sentences brief.
      Regards, the editorial team.


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