GDC (General Dental Council)

The GDC is the regulatory body for dentistry in the UK. They hold the dental register. The GDC are responsible for complaints and compliance.


  • It is illegal to work in the UK without GDC registration.
  • All dentists must pay an annual retention fee to stay on the register.
  • Dentists must complete Continuous Professional Development (15 hours verifiable and 35 hours non-verifiable per year) to stay on the register.
  • The CPD system runs in 5 year cycles. A dentist must present their evidence of verifiable CPD at the end of their 5 year cycle.

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Primary Care Trusts

Primary care is the care provided by people you normally see when you first have a health problem. This will include a visit It might be a visit to a dentist (NHS walk-in centres and the NHS Direct phone line service are also part of primary care). All of these services are managed for you by your local primary care trust (PCT). There are currently 152 PCTs in England.

PCTs are now at the centre of the NHS and control 80% of the NHS budget. PCT must make sure there are enough services for people within their area and that these services are accessible. It must also make sure that all other health services are provided, including hospitals, dentists, opticians, mental health services. They are also responsible for getting health and social care systems working together for the benefit of patients.

When a principal, associate or locum moves into new PCT area, he/she must register with that PCT. This will involve filling out an application form, providing references and completing a form, which asks about criminal or disciplinary procedures including a CRB check. The primary care trusts (PCTs) must be satisfied with the candidate's proficiency in English (including EU dentists) before issuing NHS contract numbers to overseas general dental practitioners.

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Defence Unions

A dentist is obliged to belong to a defence union.
These organisations provide indemnity insurance to dentist, which pays for legal costs and damages in the event of a legal action.
There is an annual fee to belong to a defence union. An insurance certificate is issued which will need to be shown to the PCT when you register with a PCT.


The union provides support through their dento-legal advisers. These are experienced dentists with legal training. When a dentist calls the defence union a dental adviser gives specific advise in order to limit any damage caused or to prevent mistakes being made.

Dentists should be making their first call to the defence union on any sign of trouble. If a dentist is worried about a complaint, or treatment that has gone wrong, or is requested to present records to the police etc, he should contact his defence union for advice before taking any action.

BDA (British Dental Association)

The British Dental Association is the professional body and trade union for dentists in the UK. The BDA lobby parliament, handles public relations and the media on behalf of dentists.

Registration with the BDA is voluntary, but a lot of dentists in practices on the High Street choose to join. There is an annual fee for joining.

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