Board completes review - Improving scope of practice regulation to reflect contemporary dental practice

26 Sep 2018

Since the start of the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (the National Scheme), the Dental Board of Australia (the Board) has moved incrementally from the prescriptive requirements for scope of practice to implement changes that encourage a responsive, risk-based approach that aligns with the Regulatory principles of the National Scheme.

Over the past year the Board has carried out a review of the current Scope of practice registration standard and associated regulatory documents. The Board has heard from the profession and community about the proposed changes. Submissions can be viewed on the Board’s website under Past consultations.

The feedback provided is greatly valued and has informed the Board’s proposed revised registration standard (consistent with the consultation version) which it will submit to COAG Health Council for approval.

The Board will inform dental practitioners and stakeholders of the outcome once a decision has been made by ministers.

The proposed key changes aim to:

Strengthen healthcare teams

  • The requirement for a structured professional relationship between a dentist and dental therapists, dental hygienists or oral health therapists will not be regulated by the Board.
  • Dental practitioners should be mindful of other regulatory requirements and workplace agreements which will continue to cover credentialing and scope of clinical practice.
  • The Board’s expectations of professional relationships are set out in the Board’s Code of conduct (the Code).
  • The Code of conduct sets out the standards of professional conduct the Board expects and is used to evaluate dental practitioners’ conduct.
  • By defining the Board’s expectations of professional conduct including professional relationships, the Code supports patients’ interests, good patient care and the delivery of appropriate, effective services within an ethical framework.
  • Practitioners have a professional responsibility to be familiar with and to apply the Code.

Recognise the professional roles and responsibilities of all dental practitioners

  • The regulatory bar on independent practice for dental therapists, dental hygienists and oral health therapists will be removed. 
  •  The Board has seen important changes to the education programs for dental therapists, dental hygienists and oral health therapists and current training is sufficient to support these practitioners in working in team-based settings without supervision.
  • This change has no influence on the ability for dental therapists, dental hygienists and oral health therapists to own and run a dental business – as that right already exits.
  • The ability of a dental therapists, dental hygienists and oral health therapists to access a provider number or other funding sources is not the responsibility of the Board.

Support practitioner to understand their own scope of practice

  • The Board has designed a reflective tool to support practitioners in reflecting on their knowledge, skills and abilities, and consider how their competence relates to their areas of practice.
  • You should self-review your individual scope of practice regularly.
  • This is especially important when updating or refreshing your knowledge and skills in response to changes in your workplace setting or before the introduction of new technologies, equipment and /or treatments into your practice
  • As a registered dental practitioner it is your responsibility to know your own scope of practice and ensure that you comply with the requirements of the Board’s registration standard and guideline.

Page reviewed 26/09/2018