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 direct access arrangements that allow patients to see a DCP without a prescription from a dentist. Direct access offers greater flexibility and choice for many patients, whether you are an existing SpaDental patient or a new 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.
Treatments carried out by a DCP are in addition to a dentist’s services.
- It is necessary for patients to attend regular dental examinations with their dentist according to their individual needs.
- If a patient has not had a recent examination, the DCP providing treatment under direct access may decide it is not appropriate to continue until the patient has seen a dentist for an oral health review.
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?
- The appointment does not include a full oral examination and assessment. We ask patients to take note of the importance of regular check-ups which they should book separately with their dentist. If the DCP is unable to provide an aspect of treatment, the DCP will refer the patient to the dentist.
- Direct access treatments are available to new patients as well as existing patients. The information on this page advises new patients who do not wish to see a dentist about the limitations of the treatment provided through direct access. For a full oral health assessment, patients should book an appointment with a dentist.
- 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 to that patient. In any further treatment sessions, the patient will confirm in writing that they do not wish to see a dentist. The DCP will discuss the patient’s future care with the dentist.
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, polishing and root care 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 are able to carry out all the duties of a hygienist and can also complete simple restorations (fillings) on both adults and children. They can take x-rays, provide intra and extra oral assessments, complete more complex restorations 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.
Appointments via direct access to your dental therapist or hygienist are a valuable addition to seeing your own dentist on a regular basis. It is important that you continue to see your own dentist for regular examinations, as the check-up provided by your dentist is more comprehensive than can be provided under direct access.
Get in touch
If you have further questions about direct access, please ask.
* 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.