Dental Board of Australia - 2020/21 annual summary
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2020/21 annual summary


  • 24,984 dental practitioners
    • Up 2.4% from 2019/20
    • 3.0% of all registered health practitioners
  • 0.5% identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
  • 53.4% female; 46.6% male


Age: <25 = 3.2%, 25 to 34 = 29.3%, 35 to 44 = 27.2%, 45 to 54 = 17.7%, 55 to 64 = 15.2%, 65 to 74 = 6.4%, >75 = 1.0%


Divisions: 74.4% dentists, 9.4% oral health therapists, 5.9% dental hygienists, 5.1% dental prosthetists, 3.2% dental therapists, 2.2% registered in multiple divisions



  • 710 notifications lodged with Ahpra
    • 1,035 registered dental practitioners Australiawide, including HPCA and OHO data, had notifications made about them
    • 4.1% of the profession

Sources of notifications

Sources of notifications: Patient, relative or member of the public 55.4%, HCE 26.2%, Other practitioner 8.2%, Employer 1.8%, Board’s own motion 1.5%, Other 6.9%

  • 25 immediate actions taken

  • 38 mandatory notifications received
    • 19 about professional standards

Most common types of complaints

Most common types of complaints: Clinical care 57.5%, Communication 7.9%, Behaviour 4.1%, Documentation 3.8%, Offence against other law 2.1%, Breach of non-offence provision - National Law 2.1%, Other 22.5%

Notifications closed

Notifications closed: 757 notifications closed, 11.4% conditions imposed on registration or an undertaking accepted, 3.0% received a caution or reprimand, 0.1% registration cancelled, 20.7% referred to another body or retained by a health complaints entity, 64.7% no further action


  • 233 practitioners monitored for health, performance and/or conduct during the year
  • 165 cases being monitored at 30 June:
    • 14 for conduct
    • 17 for health reasons
    • 86 for performance
    • 9 for prohibited practitioner/student
    • 39 for suitability/eligibility for registration

Criminal offence complaints

  • 22 criminal offence complaints made
    • 14 about title protection
    • 2 about practice protection
    • 6 about advertising breaches
  • 32 were closed

Referred to an adjudication body

  • 4 matters decided by a tribunal
  • 1 matter decided by a panel
  • 9 appeals

A report from the Chair

This year the Dental Board of Australia improved collaboration and coordination with our stakeholders and partners to build better understanding of regulation and our role in protecting the public. A focus has been on working together to support professional practice.

Highlights this year

The Board reviewed several standards and guidelines, released guidance and information, and launched a national health and wellbeing support service for dental practitioners. A review of the Board’s decisionmaking committees resulted in a new national structure, contributing to greater regulatory effectiveness. The Board focused on improving how guidance is presented, with a plain English review of its fact sheets. Updated versions will be released in 2021/22, starting with a fact sheet on teeth whitening.

Regulatory response to COVID-19

Our response to the COVID-19 pandemic and support for practitioners to comply with their regulatory obligations in a rapidly changing environment continued this year. The Board contacted practitioners directly to explain the evolving advice about state and territory governments’ public health orders and our response to COVID-19 and the challenges it continues to present.

Dental Practitioner Support

Dental Practitioner Support, launched on 6 July, is the first 24/7, free, confidential, nationwide telephone and online service for all dental practitioners and students.

Stakeholder engagement

The Dental Stakeholder Liaison Group was established due to COVID-19 and the extraordinary challenges it posed. These challenges continued into 2020/21. The group stayed active, meeting under a broader scope to include topics beyond COVID-19 and of interest and relevance to the group.

The past year also saw the first in a series of planned roundtables, held on 21 March, to discuss how we could collectively clarify for practitioners our roles and the role of practitioner regulation.


In 2020, the Australian Dental Council (ADC) reviewed the accreditation standards. The Board approved the standards with effect from 1 January. Any dental practitioner program submitted for accreditation after this date will be assessed using the revised standards.

An ADC review of the competencies for newly qualified dental practitioners is due to be finalised in 2021/22.

Standards, guidelines and codes

The revised Scope of practice registration standard came into effect on 1 July, following approval by Ministerial Council. A ‘Know your scope’ online hub was launched to hold information and resources to support dental practitioners’ understanding of their obligations under the revised standard.

Following a review, the Guidelines for dental records were retired, as the Code of conduct contains adequate guidance about health record management. A fact sheet and self-reflective tool were published to support practitioners practising safely.

New Guidelines for blood-borne viruses for registered health practitioners and students came into effect on 6 July. The Board’s guidelines (for practitioners and students who perform exposure-prone procedures) apply to health practitioners who treat registered health practitioners or students living with a blood-borne virus.

The review of the Guidelines on infection control was begun, with a public consultation scheduled for late 2021.

Dr Murray Thomas

Page reviewed 22/11/2022