Contemporary dental practice in the UK. Part 1: demography and practising arrangements in 2015

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Colleges, School and Institutes


To determine, by means of an anonymous, self-reported questionnaire, the demographic profile and practising details of general dental practitioners in the UK in 2015.

A previously-piloted and validated 121-question questionnaire was distributed during 2015 to 500 dentists at UK dental meetings with a request that they complete the questionnaire and return it by post in the reply-paid envelope to the corresponding author.

Three hundred and eighty-eight useable questionnaires were returned, giving a response rate of 77.6%. Of the respondents, 60.2% were male and 39.8% female. Their mean age since graduation was 19.7 years. Just over half of the respondents (50.9%) replied that they were practice principals, 35.8% were associates and 10.6% were foundation dentists. A quarter of the respondents were in single-handed practices, the remainder being in a partnership or group practice. There was a mean of 4.2 dentists per practice, while the mean number of dental therapists in each practice was 0.3 and 1.2 hygienists. Regarding the first available NHS appointment in the respondents' practices for non-urgent care, 23.4% could provide this on the same day, the equivalent figure for private care being 40.1%. The mean percentage of patients receiving NHS treatment was 50%, with 33.8% receiving private treatment. Just over half of respondents considered that Care Quality Commission inspections were 'valuable for fostering patient trust and confidence in dental care.' The collected data indicated that 55.4% of respondents had an intra-oral camera, while, with regard to recently-introduced concepts and techniques, 80.4% used nickel-titanium files, 47.4% used zirconia-based bridgework and 24.9% used tricalcium silicate. Of great interest, perhaps, is the response to digital radiography/digital imaging, with the results indicating that 74.1% of respondents used this form of radiography. Regarding checking the light output of the light curing units, 53.1% stated that they did check the output, but in some cases this might be at a six-monthly interval.

Results from this survey indicated that NHS service provision has dropped to approximately 50% amongst the respondents. Regarding the staffing of dental practices, just over half the respondents were practice principals and there was a mean of 4.2 dentists per practice. The results also indicated that UK dentists continue to be innovative in the techniques that they employ.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-61
Number of pages7
JournalBritish Dental Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jan 2019