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2018/19 annual summary

Dental practice in 2018/19

Snapshot of the profession

  • 23,730 dental practitioners
  • Up 2.8% from 2017/18
  • 3.2% of all registered health practitioners
  • 0.5% identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
  • 51.8% female; 48.2% male


74.7% dentists, 7.9% oral health therapists, 6.1% dental hygienists, 5.3% dental prosthetists, 3.7% dental therapists, 2.3% registered in multiple divisions


Under 25 years old: 2.4%, 25-34 years old: 29.2%, 35-44 years old: 26.1%, 45-54 years old: 18.3%, 55-64 years old: 16.3%, 65-74 years old: 6.6%, Over 75 years old:  1.0%

Audit outcomes

99.1% compliant: fully compliant with the registration standards, 0.9% no audit action required: during the audit period, practitioners changed their registration type to non-practising, elected to surrender their registration or failed to renew their registration

  • 99.1% compliant: fully compliant with the registration standards
  • 0.9% no audit action required: during the audit period, practitioners changed their registration type to non-practising, elected to surrender their registration or failed to renew their registration

Regulating the profession

  • 749 notifications lodged with AHPRA1
  • Australia-wide, including Health Professional Councils Authority (HPCA) in NSW and Office of the Health Ombudsman (OHO) in Queensland data, 992 registered dental practitioners – or 4.2% – had notifications made about them
  • 733 notifications closed
    • 10.2% had conditions imposed on registration or an undertaking accepted
    • 8.5% received a caution or reprimand
    • 0.1% registration suspended or cancelled
    • 0.1% fined
    • 18.4% referred to another body or retained by a health complaints entity (HCE)
    • 62.6% no further action taken
  • Immediate action taken 8 times
  • 56 mandatory notifications received
    • 50 about professional standards
  • 167 dental practitioners monitored for health, performance and/or conduct during the year
  • 132 cases were being monitored at 30 June
    • 8 on grounds of conduct
    • 13 for health reasons
    • 72 for performance
    • 5 prohibited practitioner/student
    • 34 for suitability/eligibility for registration
  • 42 criminal offence complaints were made and 40 closed
    • 24 new matters related to title protection
    • 6 to practice protection
    • 12 to advertising breaches
  • Matters decided by a tribunal: 11
  • Matters decided by a panel: 0
  • Decisions appealed: 1

1Unless stated otherwise, all notification data is AHPRA data.

Sources of notifications: 55.4% Patient, relative or member of the public, 23.8% HCE, 11.2% Other practitioner, 2.3% Employer, 2.1% Anonymous, 5.2% Other

Most common types of complaint: 70.0% Clinical care, 5.7% Billing, 4.4% Behaviour, 3.9% Infection/hygiene, 2.4% Communication, 13.6% Other

A report on the year from the Chair

The public is best protected by professionals behaving professionally. The Dental Board of Australia’s initiatives support professional practice by dental practitioners by setting the standards and policies for the profession that are enforceable and make sense to both the public and dental practitioners.

This summary highlights some of the Board’s initiatives in 2018/19.

Change in Board membership

In October 2018, I started in the role as Chair, and the Board farewelled outgoing Chair Dr John Lockwood, its Chair since his appointment in 2009. There were also additional changes to the Board membership, with six new members joining the Board to replace six retiring members.

Scope of practice review

In 2018, the Board undertook public consultation on the review of the Scope of practice registration standard, and the proposed revised standard was submitted to government in late 2018. In March 2019, Health Ministers agreed to refer the standard to the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission) to independently assess the patient quality, patient safety implications and consumer benefit of the revised standard, and to report back to Health Ministers in July 2019. While the Commission’s review is underway, the Board is continuing planning and engagement work to support implementation of the proposed revised registration standard.

Professional assurance

Following its early discussions with the profession in 2017/18, the Board has continued to options for a framework for continuing professional assurance (revalidation). A key part of this work is to review the Board’s notifications data to identify indicators of risk factors that will inform the development of a proposed framework.

Policy and accreditation updates

In late 2018, the Board consulted on its proposal to close the Public Sector Dental Workforce Scheme, which was supported by most respondents. The Board is working closely with those affected to coordinate the transition.

The Board started work on the review of its guidelines and associated resources for dental records and infection control, which are closely linked to the code of conduct review.

On 27 June, the Australian Dental Council (ADC), AHPRA and the Board signed a new five-year accreditation agreement starting 1 July 2019. The Board looks forward to continuing its important work with the ADC.

Engagement and cultural safety

Stakeholder engagement activities continue to be a focus. The Board is testing different ways of communicating and developing targeted messages for different groups.

The Board is also committed to contributing to the National Scheme’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy and is exploring opportunities to support the promotion of culturally safe practice by all dental practitioners.

Future work

The Board will progress the development of a dental practitioner support service for every registered dental practitioner and dental student in Australia. The practitioner support service, which will be a confidential information and referral service, is an opportunity for the Board to support the profession and protect the public.

Dr Murray Thomas (dentist), Chair

Page reviewed 4/11/2021