Dental hygienists and therapists and soft tissue examinations

Following a recent GDC case involving a DDU hygienist and therapist member, the DDU has been asked to clarify the position regarding the remit of hygienists and therapists when carrying out soft tissue examinations.

The case in question involved a DDU member who was treating a patient prior to 1 May 2013 when direct access to dental hygienists and therapists without the prescription of a dentist became available. The member was providing treatment under the prescription of a dentist who did not ask her to carry out a soft tissue examination. It was agreed by the experts giving evidence at the GDC hearing that there was no requirement for the hygienist and therapist concerned to conduct a formal soft tissue examination of the patient in these circumstances.

The DDU supported the member throughout the GDC process and we are happy to clarify any confusion about the implications of the outcome of the hearing for dental hygienists and therapists.

The DDU confirms that a dental hygienist or therapist can carry out a soft tissue examination when seeing a patient under a direct access arrangement, or if one is prescribed by a dentist. This is confirmed by the British Society of Dental Hygiene and Therapy (BSDHT). When an examination is carried out, you should always make a note of both the positive and negative findings in the clinical records.

This guidance was correct at publication 18/05/2015. It 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.

GDC

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