Tackling the deepening dental crisis: Association of Dental Groups calls for reforms to the overseas registration exam to boost depleted workforce

The Association of Dental Groups (ADG) has today restated its campaign to boost Britain’s dental workforce after new data revealed that 40% of children don’t have regular NHS check-ups and that 104,133 went to hospital with rotten teeth over the past five years.

As Britain’s dental crisis deteriorates, the ADG is urging the General Dental Council (GDC) to speed up the approval of qualified dentists through the overseas registration exam (ORE).

At present, there is a bottleneck of 2,000 overseas dentists waiting to take the ORE, which is characterised by lengthy delays.

As Neil Carmichael, Chair of the ADG explains, ‘That’s 2,000 dentists that could be practising, at a time when the UK dentistry is crying out for greater resource.’

He continued: ‘The government needs to use every tool at its disposal to encourage the GDC to make it easier for dentists to practice in the UK, by increasing the number of places on the ORE and sitting them more frequently.

‘A net increase of just 1,000 dentists could deliver access to NHS primary dental care for up to 750,000 people. This will alleviate the pressure on health services and ensure that everyone in the UK has access to quality dental care.’

While the ADG fully supports the NHS long-term workforce plan to increase UK training of dentists, this will only see significant increases in qualified dentists from mid-2030. By that time, many NHS dental practices will be closed.

Contract reform, backed by The Mirror today, will also increase the number of patients being seen, but needs to be supplemented by a fast increase in the number of dentists practicing, which can only be urgently unlocked by reform to the ORE.