How do I assess a dental patient's capacity?

Determining a patient’s capacity to consent is crucial to everyday dental practice, and capacity should be assumed unless proved otherwise. There is a statutory test used to assess capacity, set out in the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (MCA) and its accompanying Code of Practice.

The MCA applies in England and Wales. See the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000 and the Mental Capacity Act (Northern Ireland) 2016 for the relevant legislation for Scotland and Northern Ireland.

You can contact us for specific dento-legal advice if the patient has fluctuating capacity, or if evaluating their capacity is complex or assessment is finely balanced.

Find out more in our guide to assessing mental capacity.

This page was correct at publication on 09/06/2022. Any guidance is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.