Dental Board of Australia - April 2023
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April 2023

Issue 28 – April 2023

Chair's message

Image of Dr Murray ThomasIn these uncertain times, the Dental Board of Australia is grateful to dental practitioners working in the government, non-government, voluntary and education sectors for providing safe and quality dental care to patients.

The Board's recent work has included updating its list of recognised overseas qualifications and publishing its revised fact sheet on using protected titles. A review of several registration standards is underway, and the Board looks forward to your thoughts as this vital work progresses.

In the latest Taking care podcast, Associate Professor Carmen Parter shares experiences from the beginning of her career and her continuing hope that things are improving to make Australia’s healthcare system culturally safe and free of racism.

It is never too late to give up your prejudices. Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)

Dr Murray Thomas
Chair, Dental Board of Australia

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Board news

Dental Board publishes updated list of recognised overseas qualifications

After a targeted consultation and review process, the Board has updated the list of qualifications from the United Kingdom, Ireland and New Zealand that make dental practitioners eligible to apply for registration in Australia.

The updated list of approved qualifications from overseas jurisdictions is available on the Board’s website (found under the relevant dental division on the Overseas qualified practitioners page). This work is one step in the Board’s review of the General registration for overseas qualified dental practitioners registration standard. More information about this standard review will be announced later this year.

The list identifies education providers in the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland and New Zealand that provide qualifications the Board considers to be substantially equivalent to an approved qualification. Practitioners who hold a qualification on the list are eligible to apply for registration as a dental practitioner in Australia and are not required to complete the Australian Dental Council assessment and examination process.

The list has been in effect since 2010 and transitioned from the previous state and territory dental boards. The review allowed the Board to update the list with new dentistry qualifications awarded since 2010 and include other dental divisions, where these divisions exist, in the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland and New Zealand.

The review ensures regulatory barriers are not unnecessarily imposed on overseas qualified dental practitioners who are safe and competent to practise in Australia. For more details, read the news item.

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Check and correct your advertising

Responsible advertising about regulated health services helps to keep the public safe from false or misleading claims and supports the public to make informed choices about their healthcare.

Since 2020, health practitioners have been asked to declare that, if they advertise, their advertising meets the advertising requirements of the National Law. Over the past two years Ahpra has conducted random audits of practitioner advertising.

A recent audit of dental practitioners identified that 65% of the practitioner sample had some form of online advertising and 19% of practitioners had one or more breaches of the advertising rules.

The most common breach related to use of specialist titles. Dental practitioners are not permitted to call themselves a specialist or state that they specialise in a specific field or service, unless they hold specialist registration in a relevant specialty.

The following examples would be considered false and misleading:

  • specialising in reconstructive dentistry
  • specialising in cosmetic dentistry
  • specialising in orthodontics (if the practitioners is not a registered specialist in orthodontics)
  • specialising in dentures
  • specialising in dental implants
  • specialising in veneers, and
  • specialising in crowns.

Other breaches identified during the audit included promotions and specials being advertised without terms and conditions.

We encourage you to use the self-assessment tool on Ahpra’s advertising hub to ensure your advertising is compliant with the National Law.

Ahpra will be conducting follow-up audits in 2023. Practitioners who continue to breach the advertising rules may be subject to regulatory action such as caution, conditions on their registration or criminal prosecution.

We know that health practitioners want to do the right thing and advertise responsibly. We encourage you to use the resources and information available to help ensure your advertising complies with the National Law.

Updated fact sheet on use of title

Following consultation, the Board has updated its fact sheet on use of title. The fact sheet provides guidance so dental practitioners don’t mislead anyone when describing and/or advertising themselves to patients.

The National Law protects certain titles and misuse of title can lead to prosecution and/or disciplinary action. You must not use the title ‘dental specialist’ unless you are registered in the relevant recognised specialty.

Your professional obligations throughout the year

Another successful registration renewal period closed in November. Thanks to everyone who renewed on time and especially to those who got in early. While renewal is an annual reminder, it’s important to know that under the National Law, you have obligations throughout the year.

In addition to renewing your registration every year, the following professional obligations apply to all registered health practitioners:

  • Notify Ahpra of changes to your principal place of practice, name or address within 30 days.
  • Meet the Board’s registration standards, codes and guidelines.
  • Maintain recency of practice.
  • Participate in and record continuing professional development activities.
  • Comply with audit requirements to check your renewal declarations.

There are also some obligations that hopefully won’t apply to you, but it’s important to know about them in case they do:

  • Make a mandatory notification (required in some limited circumstances).
  • Notify Ahpra in writing within seven days if you’re charged with an offence punishable by 12 months’ jail or more or if you have been convicted of, or are the subject of a finding of guilt, for an offence punishable by any term of imprisonment.

There are forms to help you make these declarations when required − see the Common forms page on the Ahpra website. 

New-look website homepage

You may have already noticed the refreshed design of our website homepage, which went live in February. The vibrant colour and images are designed to make the homepage more engaging, and dropdown menus at the top of each page should make it easier for people to find what they’re looking for. Any links you had bookmarked will continue to work because all addresses for webpages, documents and forms remain the same.

Your thoughts on this change are important and all feedback is welcome. Please tell us what you think via this quick survey.

Registration news

Latest workforce data released

The Board’s latest quarterly registration data report covers the period 1 October to 31 December 2022. At this date there were 26,836 registered dental practitioners, including 29 on the pandemic response sub-register. There are:

  • 23,777 with general registration
  • 1,796 with both general and specialist registration
  • 68 with specialist registration only
  • 42 with limited registration
  • 1,150 with non-practising registration, and
  • 3 with both general and non-practising registration.

For further data breakdowns by division, age, gender and principal place of practice, visit the Board’s Statistics page to read the report.

Students and graduates

Where to start? Try the Code of conduct

When you’re just getting started it may seem like there is a lot of information to get your head around. Knowing where to begin can be daunting.

With this in mind, we want to highlight and encourage you to familiarise yourself with the profession’s Code of conduct. The code is an important document for dental practitioners. It provides guidance about expected standards for practitioner behaviour and conduct. In defining these expectations, it helps to keep the public safe by supporting good patient care and delivery of services.

Download the Code of conduct and read the Resources to help practitioners including helpful FAQs.

If you’re a graduate, ensure you read the article about professional obligations in this newsletter as it’s an important reminder of your professional and legal obligations as a registered health practitioner.

Professional updates

TGA – regulation for medical devices survey closes soon

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) dental and oral health survey about regulation for medical devices manufactured at the Point-of-Care (POC) is open until 11:59pm on Sunday 7 May 2023. Practitioners involved in the manufacture and supply of medical devices for the dental sector are encouraged to complete the survey before it closes. It takes 10–15 minutes to complete and aims to capture information about POC manufacturing activities, including:

  • what kind of devices are being manufactured
  • who is manufacturing the devices, and
  • what measures are currently in place to ensure devices are safe and fit for purpose.

Information collected from the survey may inform further refinements to the TGA regulatory framework and will not be used to conduct compliance activities.

TGA – fact sheet for health professionals about patient information on implantable medical devices

The TGA has developed a fact sheet to support health professionals’ understanding and use of medical device patient information materials for implantable devices. The fact sheet explains what patient information materials are, why they were introduced, how they can be used to help patients know more about the implantable devices that are recommended or have been received as part of their treatment, and who is responsible for providing these materials to patients.

Available on the TGA website, the fact sheet was developed in collaboration with multiple stakeholders, including the Australian Commission for Safety and Quality in Health Care, state and territory health departments, medical device industry bodies, consumer and clinical groups, the Australian Medical Association, Ahpra and National Board Executive Officers.

What’s new?

How do we prevent trust violation in healthcare? And how do we tackle racism?

International guest Professor Rosalind Searle unpacks the impacts on patients when trust isn’t prioritised

Building trust is fundamental to safe healthcare, as is responding effectively when a practitioner breaches that core responsibility to a patient. In Ahpra’s first Taking care podcast for the year we look at building trust in healthcare, how do we keep it, how can patients be better supported if things go wrong.

Rosalind Searle is a Professor of Human Resource Management and Organisational Psychology at the Adam Smith Business School at the University of Glasgow. She is inaugural director of the European Association of Work and Organisational Psychology (EAWOP) Impact Incubator.

Pointing to examples in Australia, Professor Searle provides a guide for strengthening processes and support mechanisms to boost trust in healthcare.

Ahpra Board member Associate Professor Carmen Parter takes on racism in healthcare

Our latest podcast is Racism makes us sick, with Associate Professor Carmen Parter discussing the impact of racism in healthcare. She points to her nursing days when there were almost no Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander faces seen working on the hospital ward and very little time given to the health needs of Indigenous people.

She talks about the cultural safety work being done and the challenges to make these policies a reality in our healthcare system.

Assoc. Prof. Parter has also seen intentional and unintentional racism in the system, which she is committed to helping reform.

'Racism makes us sick. Discrimination of all forms impacts the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,’ she said.

'We've seen it. We’ve felt it. But now we actually have evidence to demonstrate that is the case, and it is now time for health policymakers and services to actually do something about discrimination or prejudiced practices in the workplace.’

In her work on Indigenous health and as a member of the Ahpra Board, Assoc. Prof. Parter is rolling out culturally safe policies across health and calling all to walk with her while tackling racism.

More podcasts available

Our Taking care podcast series covers a wide range of current issues in patient safety and healthcare in conversation with health experts and other people in our community. Download and listen to the latest episode today. You can also listen and subscribe on SpotifyApple Podcasts and by searching ‘Taking care’ in your podcast player.

New engagement and support team to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander practitioners with their registration

Ahpra has recently established a new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Engagement and Support team (the support team) to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander applicants, registrants and stakeholders through the registration process.

The support team forms part of Ahpra’s commitments to providing culturally safe services to its applicants, registrants and stakeholders.

Who is it for?

The support team will focus on helping recent applicants and new graduates who have identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander on their application form. This applies to applicants across all 16 registered professions in the National Scheme.

The team’s one-on-one services range from providing helpful tips and tricks for navigating the registration process to regular phone contact, updates and advice on disclosures made on application (for example, impairments or previous criminal history) that may require consideration by the National Board.

The team plans to expand its services soon, which will include helping Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander practitioners with the renewals process, starting from 2023.

What to expect?

The support team is committed to ensuring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander practitioners in all professions get registered or renewed promptly so they can focus on their contributions to safe healthcare and to their communities. Keep an eye out for regular emails from the team or reach out for help at [email protected].

Members of the team will be attending community events and conferences relating to dental practice, as well as the other professions.

If you are a current student, contact your Indigenous Student Support Centre for information.

National Scheme news

Click on the image below to read the National Scheme newsletter. Our next issue will be published soon, and you can subscribe on the newsletter webpage.

National Scheme news banner graphic

Keep in touch with the Board

As always, we encourage you to regularly check the Dental Board website for information and updates relating to the dental profession.

  • Visit our website for information on the National Scheme and the mandatory registration standards, codes, guidelines, policies and fact sheets. Board consultation papers are published on the site under News.
  • Lodge an online enquiry form.
  • For registration enquiries call 1300 419 495 (from within Australia) or +61 3 9285 3010 (for overseas callers).
  • Address mail correspondence to: Executive Officer, Dental Board of Australia, GPO Box 9958, Melbourne VIC 3001.
Page reviewed 30/11/2023