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GDC Statement on ‘direct-to-consumer’ orthodontic treatment

By GDC | 14th May 2021 | News

New forms of treatment can bring real benefits, especially when affordability and patient access are improved. But new approaches must not be allowed to compromise well-established measures, designed to ensure patient safety.

The GDC updated statement in relation to direct-to-consumer orthodontics  includes important information for dental professionals. It is based on three main requirements.

  • In line with current authoritative clinical guidance, and orthodontic training, clinical judgements about the suitability of a proposed course of orthodontic treatment 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 the foundation for that assessment. Should a dentist rely upon information from another source to inform their own clinical judgement, for example information from another dental professional about a clinical examination they have conducted, the responsibility for that judgement rests wholly with the prescribing dentist.
  • Direct interaction between patient and practitioner - whether in person or remotely - is essential for providing patients 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 expectations.
  • 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.

The overriding factor for dental professionals to remember however is that, as in any other setting, it is the treating dentist who is responsible for ensuring they have met all of the Standards for the Dental Team . In remote models of treatment, this responsibility rests with the GDC registrant who prescribes the treatment.

As ever, all of the Standards are important. Here though, we highlight some which may be of particular importance in relation to some models of direct-to-consumer orthodontics. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list of the things you need to be aware of, and it remains your responsibility to ensure you adhere to all relevant standards and requirements.

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