Giving information to patients

A practice's communication with patients needs to make a positive impression - whether through its website, marketing literature or other written information.

Keeping patients informed

Information given to patients should help them make an informed decision about their dental treatment and care, and should not be misleading.

To help patients remember what you've told them, consider giving them information leaflets they can read in their own time, or recommend useful websites as a resource.

Treatment plans

The GDC requires dental professionals to give patients a written treatment plan before treatment begins, and ask them to sign it. The plan should include:

  • the proposed treatment
  • the estimated cost
  • which (if any) elements of the treatment will be provided under the NHS, and which privately.

If the treatment plan has to be revised, an amended plan should be issued in writing, including a cost estimate.

Practice literature

Any written communication from the practice is likely to be read by both patients and potential patients. Make sure it is accurate, clear and not open to misinterpretation by patients or regulatory bodies.

Clearly display the following information, ideally on the practice reception/waiting room notice board:

  • a list of dental fees
  • the members of the dental team (including their GDC registration number where appropriate)
  • the GDC's nine core ethical principles (from 'Standards for the dental team').

Review practice literature regularly to make sure it's up to date and meets GDC requirements. It's useful to have a designated person at your practice to check your website and written materials.

Promoting your practice

When promoting your practice, make sure the information is current and accurate, your GDC registration number is displayed and the language used is clear.

The GDC says practice websites should include:

  • the practice name and address, email address and telephone number
  • the GDC's contact details or a link to the GDC website
  • details of the complaints procedure and who patients can contact if they are not satisfied with the response
  • when the website was last updated.

Websites should also show:

  • practitioners' qualifications
  • the country where they were awarded
  • their GDC registration number.

Avoid making any statements or claims in advertising material that could lead to unfulfilled expectations from patients.

Ethical advertising

Any written material intended for publication, including online, should be checked so it meets relevant ethical and legal standards. You can read our guide on advertising your practice ethically here.

The GDC has its own guidance on advertising, which emphasises the need to adhere to standard 1.3.3 of its 'Standards for the dental team'.

Dental professionals are responsible for making sure any advert that mentions their name:

  • includes current and accurate information
  • includes their GDC registration number
  • uses clear language that patients are likely to understand
  • backs up claims with facts
  • avoids ambiguous statements
  • avoids claims that are intended or likely to create unjustified expectations about achievable results.

Specialist titles

The term 'specialist' should only be used to describe a dental professional who is on the relevant GDC specialist list. This also applies to titles that imply specialist status, such as endodontist, although terms such as "experienced in..." or "special interest in..." are acceptable.

Avoid comparisons and unsubstantiated claims, such as that your practice is 'the best' for whitening procedures. Aside from the fact that this is objective, there's a chance that other dental professionals might feel their practice has been denigrated by the implication.

Dental professionals must also advertise in line with the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) Code, which requires adverts to be 'legal, decent, honest and truthful'.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has the power to remove any advert found to contravene the Code and can refer persistent offenders to Trading Standards.

The Committee of Advertising Practice can advise whether your advert complies with the CAP code.

If you're a member and have any questions about the dento-legal aspects of advertising, contact one of our advisers for help.

This page was correct at publication on 16/08/2022. 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.


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