Dental Board of Australia - Cosmetic procedures by dental practitioners are not without risk
Look up a health practitioner


Check if your health practitioner is qualified, registered and their current registration status

Cosmetic procedures by dental practitioners are not without risk

28 Aug 2023

Practitioners and patients are urged to exercise caution when considering dental procedures undertaken for cosmetic purposes.

Key points
  • Dental procedures for cosmetic purposes are very popular; patients and practitioners are being warned they are not without risks.
  • Proposed new resources for practitioners undertaking and advertising cosmetic procedures are being developed to safeguard the wider non-surgical cosmetic procedures industry.
  • Patients can ask important questions when considering cosmetic procedures to be well informed.

While cosmetic dentistry can positively impact many people’s lives, the Dental Board of Australia (DBA) warns that procedures such as tooth veneers can be major life-long undertakings that are not risk free.

National Boards, including the DBA, will soon be consulting on proposed new guidelines for registered health practitioners performing and advertising non-surgical cosmetic procedures.

DBA Chair Dr Murray Thomas said that National Boards, including the DBA, are developing additional resources to help practitioners meet their obligations when performing cosmetic procedures. 

‘Restoring form, function and aesthetics or appearance are integral to dentistry, so the lines between procedures undertaken for cosmetic purposes and addressing a clinical need are often blurred,’ Dr Thomas said.

‘Regardless of the reason for providing care, practitioners have a responsibility to put patients’ interests first to achieve the best possible patient outcomes. 

‘This includes when undertaking procedures for cosmetic purposes, which can sometimes be major undertakings. Practitioners must ensure patients are provided adequate time to properly consider the impact of cosmetic procedures, that realistic expectations are set, and that informed consent, including financial consent, is gained.’

In a recent audit, two-thirds of dental practitioners were advertising online and via social media, with almost one in five appearing to breach at least one aspect of the current advertising guidelines.

Potential breaches include the false and misleading use of specialist titles, such as specialising in cosmetic dentistry, and the use of promotions and specials without terms and conditions. 

Further and more extensive audits will be undertaken in the future, so the Board is calling on all practitioners to be aware of their responsibilities in marketing as well as patient care.

The Board receives and considers complaints (notifications) made about dental practitioners. The Board cannot take action when the concerns raised in a notification relate solely to a patient’s dissatisfaction with a cosmetic outcome.

Dr Thomas said the Board has received complaints from dissatisfied consumers, prompting it to issue guidance to practitioners and patients. 

‘Patients need to consider the potential risks of cosmetic procedures, and that treatments such as porcelain tooth veneers may be irreversible and lifelong,' Dr Thomas said.

'Paitents also should consider the potential immediate and ongoing financial impacts.’

The Board is also urging patients to consider these key questions to help them when considering any cosmetic dental procedure, including: 

  • Why do I want to have the procedure, and am I willing to accept the risk that I may be unhappy with the outcome?
  • What are the health, financial and other risks of this procedure?
  • Is this procedure an irreversible and lifelong change that will require ongoing care, maintenance and possible replacement, incurring additional future costs?
  • What are the realistic expectations I can have for this procedure, and what are the alternatives?
  • Has the practitioner explained the procedure, and do I understand it?
  • Should I seek a second opinion?
  • Have I discussed this with my usual treating dentist?
  • Do I need to be referred to a specialist for any part of my treatment?
  • Do I need time to think about this process before I commit to what may be a lifelong change?

Practitioners are encouraged to use the self-assessment tool on Ahpra’s advertising hub to ensure their advertising complies with the National Law.

‘We know practitioners want to do the right thing and advertise responsibly, so encourage them to make use of the tools available to help them meet their requirements to the law, and most importantly to their patients,’ Dr Thomas said.

Anyone who has concerns about a registered health practitioner is encouraged to contact Ahpra on 1300 419 495 or at the Ahpra website

Contact us

  • For media enquiries, phone (03) 8708 9200. 
  • For registration enquiries, please phone 1300 419 495 (within Australia) +61 3 9285 3010 (overseas callers).
Page reviewed 28/08/2023