What should you expect from your dental practice?

Page last updated: 2 June 2023

Finding out what you should expect from your dental practice can help you to make choices about which dentist you choose. It can also help you understand what you should expect from a service you already use.

Unlike most types of service, we don't give ratings to dentists. This is because we only inspect 10 per cent of dental services, as we've found that they pose a lower risk to patient safety than other sectors we regulate.

When we inspect dental practices, there are five questions we ask.

You can expect your dental practice to be safe because…

Staff keep records of your treatment and these are accurate, complete and up to date.

Staff notice if your dental health could be getting worse and take steps to improve it.

Staff give you medicines safely and store them correctly.

There are always enough staff on duty with the right knowledge, skills and experience to make sure you are safe.

The premises and equipment are kept clean and hygienic to prevent any risk of infection to you or other patients.

If staff have any concerns about safety, they raise them. They record any incidents that happen and, if you have a complaint, the practice deals with it in the right way.

If something goes wrong with your care or treatment, the practice apologises and tells you how it will learn from it and stop it happening to other patients.

You can expect your dental practice to be effective because…

Staff always discuss the reason for your appointment with you, and they know your medical history.

Staff clearly explain the different options for your treatment, as well as any costs involved. This helps you decide what treatment is best for you.

When you make decisions about treatment, you are not discriminated against, for example because of your age, sex (gender), gender identity, disability, race, religion or belief, or sexuality (whether you are lesbian, gay, bisexual or heterosexual).

The practice refers you to more specialist services if you need them. When this happens, the practice passes on all your relevant medical information.

You can expect your dental practice to be caring because…

Staff treat you with dignity and respect at all times.

Staff take time to listen to you and involve you in making decisions about your care.

You have enough time to think and ask questions before agreeing to care and treatment.

You have enough privacy.

If you experience any pain, distress or discomfort, staff respond in the right way.

You can expect your dental practice to be responsive to your needs because…

Appointments are scheduled at times that suit you as much as possible.

The appointment system is easy to use and you can get emergency treatment, including out of normal working hours.

The practice asks you what you think about the service and considers your different needs when planning services.

Staff take account of things such as your age, religion or disability and make adjustments where they can.

The practice tries to avoid delays and tries not to keep you waiting too long for an appointment.

It is easy for you to make a complaint. The practice tells you what to do if you are not happy with the outcome of your complaint.

You can expect your dental practice to be well-led because…

The person in charge of the practice monitors the quality and safety of its services and takes steps to solve any problems.

The practice supports its staff and shares information with them so that they can all learn new things and improve how they work.

The practice is honest and open about how well it is performing in providing high-quality care for its patients.

Your care and treatment records are complete and accurate, and they are stored securely to keep them confidential.

The practice values your views and uses your feedback to improve its services.