Dental Board of Australia - Tips for dental patients
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Tips for dental patients

The Dental Board of Australia (the Board) and the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) work to keep the public safe by making sure only safe and qualified dental practitioners work in Australia.

To practise as a dental practitioner in Australia, the practitioner must be registered with the Board. Being registered means the practitioner meets the requirements to practise competently and safely. 

An important part of practising safely is infection prevention and control. If you’re a dental patient and would like to know more about infection prevention and control and what this means for your safe care, this information is for you.

Infection prevention and control involves preventing or minimising the spread of infection to patients, practitioners and the community. 

Tips for dental patients

You can ask your dental practitioner any questions at any stage about your care including about infection prevention and control. 

You might like to consider the following questions: 

  1. Is your dental practitioner registered?
    • A dental practitioner must be registered to practise in Australia. 
    • You can ask your practitioner if they’re registered.
    • You can also check the national register of dental practitioners to make sure your dental practitioner is registered and meets national standards.
  2. Does the surgery look clean and tidy? 
    • Keeping a clean and tidy environment is important for infection prevention and control. 
    • You can ask your dental practitioner about how they keep their practice clean to prevent the spread of infection.
  3. Is your dental practitioner wearing gloves, a mask and protective glasses? 
    • Personal protective equipment (also called ’PPE’) like gowns, masks, gloves and glasses can be used by dental practitioners to help prevent the spread of infection. 
    • You can ask your dental practitioner about the kinds of PPE they use.
  4. Does your dental practitioner have access to a sink where they can wash their hands, or use alcohol-based hand rub? 
    • Maintaining good hand hygiene is important for infection prevention and control. 
    • You can ask your dental practitioner about how they maintain good hand hygiene.
  5. Does your dental practitioner work with an assistant? 
    • Some dental practitioners work with an assistant to help them maintain good infection control practices. The dental assistant passes instruments and materials to the dental practitioner and helps to keep the surgery clean and tidy.
    • Dental practitioners don’t need to work with an assistant and may have other ways of keeping the surgery clean and tidy. You can ask your dental practitioner about these.
  6. Does your dental practitioner use clean or new and disposable instruments? 
    • Dental practitioners may use both reusable and/or single-use disposable items as part of your treatment. Cleaning and sterilising reusable instruments helps to prevent the spread of infection. 
    • You can ask your dental practitioner if their reusable instruments are sterilised or if they have an autoclave (which is a machine used to sterilise instruments).
    • You can also ask about how your practitioner safely disposes of single-use items.

What to do if you aren’t happy with your care

If you’re not happy with the care you received it’s often best to speak with your dental practitioner in the first instance if you can. This includes if you have any concerns about your dental practitioner’s infection prevention and control practices. 

If you still have concerns, you can make a notification/complaint to:

You can learn more about raising a concern about a practitioner on Ahpra’s Concerns about practitioners webpage.

Page reviewed 5/12/2023