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Dental mythbuster 23: Consent to dental treatment
It is fundamental that a person receiving care or treatment agrees to receive it.
We will consider the topic of consent when we review if the practice is providing effective care.
This relates to:
- Regulation 11 (need for consent)
- key line of enquiry (KLoE) E6: Is consent to people’s care and treatment always sought in line with legislation and guidance?
Obtaining valid informed consent for dental treatment is:
- a legal requirement to allow a practitioner to touch a patient
- respects patients right to self determination
- makes it easier to treat patients with better patient outcomes
Obtaining valid informed consent means ensuring that:
Treatment is voluntary
Patients must not be coerced into having dental treatment. Dental practitioners must always obtain permission before dental treatment as well as during the course of treatment. Patients can withdraw their consent at any time.
All necessary information is disclosed
Give patients enough information and time to consider any proposed dental treatment. Include:
- the risks and benefits of treatment
- any alternatives
Dental practitioners are able to assess a patient’s mental capacity to consent
Does the patient have capacity under the Mental Capacity Act 2005 to give consent? There is a two-stage test for assessing this:
- Stage 1: be aware of impairments that could affect capacity, such as dementia
- Stage 2: can the patient:
- understand the relevant information?
- retain that information, even for a short while?
- use or weigh up the relevant information as part of the decision making process?
- communicate their decision to the dental practitioner?
Age considerations are taken into account
Whether a child can give consent for their own treatment depends on their age and if they are competent to make the decision.
- under 16 yrs:
- and not competent: the parent/guardian should consent to treatment, as long as the dental treatment is in the best interests of the patient
- and competent: then the child may consent without their parents/guardian giving permission
- over 16 yrs but under 18 yrs: they can consent to dental treatment. This cannot be overridden by their parents, but could be by a court.
When we inspect
We review the practice’s systems and processes for obtaining consent. We may ask dental practitioners and other dental care professionals to describe how and why they ask for consent. We may look at an example of a dental care record to support what we are told.
- Last updated:
- 29 June 2018