The essential role of the team in dentistry

News Published: 
28 March 2019

FGDP(UK) Dean, Ian Mills, discusses the importance of the full dental team in providing good patient care, and why membership of the whole dental team will be a founding principle of the College of General Dentistry:

The GDC's Standards for the Dental Team states that ‘Dental professionals should work with another appropriately trained member of the dental team at all times when treating patients in a dental setting’. This is predominantly for the interests of patients but also, I like to think, to support the professionals within the team. We all know that from time to time we find our jobs difficult or uninspiring, but it is often the sense of team that pulls us through.

The new prevention-focused approach to providing NHS dental care, which is being piloted as part of the contract, incentivises dentists to offer comprehensive oral health assessments and self-care plans. The nature of a prevention focus, as opposed to active treatment, offers a role for extended members of the dental team in the provision of care. As dentists, we have the opportunity to embrace this change for the sake of our patients, our staff and our practices.

With increasing patient expectations and increasing economic pressures, good dental care relies on a team approach. The role of Extended Duties Dental Nurses in patient education and oral health promotion can benefit dentists and hygienists and ensure an efficient practice that demonstrates a high standard of patient care. This team approach is why FGDP, as the only professional body in the UK specifically for general dental practice, awards a Diploma in Dental Hygiene and Diploma in Dental Therapy, and welcomes all registered dental professionals into membership. It is also why membership of the whole dental team will be a founding principle of the College of General Dentistry

So why is working as part of a wider team important? Well as we increasingly hear, many professionals, particularly newly qualified practitioners, find they may become isolated. This can lead to increased stress and even depression which may be exacerbated by patient complaints or threats of litigation leaving people feeling genuinely alone. A sense of team within a practice, or the support of colleagues who were present in the procedure a patient may have complained about, can make all the difference. 

I know from my life in practice a great deal of my satisfaction and motivation has come from working with other team members whether that is from mentoring newly qualified colleagues or learning best practice from others. Whilst individual roles may change and develop with experience in practice it is important to remember that the whole team makes the difference.