SpaDental has directed you to this page because you have booked a Direct Access Appointment to see a Dental Care Professional (DCP) without first seeing a dentist. Prior to your appointment, we must ensure you know the DCP* you will see is a trained professional with a wide skill set, but not a dentist.
What is direct access?
SpaDental has arrangements that allow patients to see a DCP without treatment prescribed by a dentist. Direct access offers greater flexibility and choice for many patients, whether you are an existing or new SpaDental patient looking for treatment. In most instances the DCPs offering direct access services will be a Dental Hygienist or Dental Therapist. Due to NHS regulations direct access is only available to patients paying privately.
What does a DCP do?
A DCP delivers direct access treatments within their Scope of Practice, individual knowledge, skills and experience to practice safely and effectively in the best interests of patients.
What do patients need to know?
- Direct access appointments and treatments are available to new patients as well as existing patients. Whether you are offered a direct access appointment will depend on your treatment needs and your preference.
- DCPs use the same quality of materials as dentists and are supported by an equal level of nursing and administrative assistance.
- DCP’s have a wide skill set but are not dentists. Therefore it is not always possible to offer appointments under direct access to all patients, or for all treatment needs.
- Sometimes a DCP needs to refer a patient to a dentist. A DCP will explain the reasons for the referral and ask the patient for consent to refer. The reasons for the referral, and the patient’s consent or refusal, are noted in the patient’s clinical records. If the patient declines to see a dentist, the DCP will use their clinical experience and judgement to decide whether to continue to offer direct access or treatment to that patient.
What is the difference between a dental therapist and a dental hygienist?
Dental hygienists are trained to carry out clinical examinations and oral cancer screening. Hygienists assess the health of your gums, providing preventative oral care advice. They work to prevent and treat gum disease with scaling and polishing to remove hard deposits and plaque. Oral care advice can include demonstrating correct flossing and brushing, as well as other oral hygiene techniques according to your personal requirements. They also offer dietary advice and other information, such as how to give up smoking. Research shows that patients who regularly visit the hygienist suffer from fewer dental problems in the long term.
Dental therapists may carry out all the duties of a hygienist and are also trained to complete restorations (fillings) on both adults and children. They can take x-rays, provide intra and extra oral assessments, complete more complex treatments on children’s teeth, and also extract primary teeth. Therapists also offer emergency temporary replacements of crowns and fillings, thereby helping patients access treatment when they need it.
Team work supports direct access
Our teams work closely together. If your hygienist or therapist finds you require treatment beyond their scope of practice, or identifies a concern that needs further investigation, they will refer you to the dentist, or a relevant health practitioner, for advice and guidance.
Get in touch
If you have further questions about direct access, please ask. The best way to ask us a question is to use the “Contact Us” form on the website.
* For simplicity, we use the term Dental Care Professional (DCP) on this page to refer to members of the dental team registered with the GDC as either dental therapists or dental hygienists.