The Dentists Act 1985 provide for the setting up of the Dental Council, whose main task will
- to register and control those engaged in the practice of dentistry,
- to regulate the education and training of dentists at undergraduate and postgraduate levels,
- to provide for the membership and method of appointment of the Council,
The Act provides
- for the recognition and registration by the Council of both dental specialists and classes of auxiliary dental workers,
- up-dates and extends the disciplinary provisions in relation to the professional conduct of dentists,
- assigns to the Council functions in regard to the implemen tation of Directives of the European Economic Commu nity concerning mutual recognition, as between Member States, of qualifications in dentistry and the application of minimum standards of education and trainingspecified for such qualifications,
- repeal existing legislation dealing with the regulation of the dental profession.
The 1985 Act makes provision for the dissolution of the Dental Board established under the Dentists Act, 1928. It provides for the establisment, membership and method of appointment of the Dental Council, the appointment of a chief officer and other staff of the Council and for certain conditions of service of such staff. It also makes provision for the financial affairs of the Council, including the charging of fees for services rendered by the Council under the provisions of the Bill.
There are two statutory registers of dentists.
The Council is obliged to prepare and establish a Register of Dentists. This corresponds to the Register of Dentists for Ireland established under the Dentists Act, 1928. The Act outlines the classes of persons entitled to be registered in the register. These include
- qualified dentists graduating from dental schools in the State,
- nationals of other Member States of the European Economic Community awarded recognised dental qualifications in any Member State and
- other people satisfy the Dental Council that their dental training and qualifications are of an adequate standard.
There is an appeals procedure against refusal by the Council to register a person.
There is provision for temporary registration of dentists. This applies in the main to dentists coming to the State for the purposes of undergoing postgraduate training or acquiring postgraduate qualifications.
The Dental Council is empowered, but not obliged, to establish, with the consent of the Minister, a Register of Dental Specialists. This was to enable the introduction if it is so decided, of the practice in some Member States of the European Economic Community (but not in the United Kingdom) of operating a system of statutory registration for dental specialists, such as orthodontists and oral surgeons.
The 1985 Act outlines the classes of persons who will be entitled to be registered in the Register of Dental Specialists if such a register is established.
Education and Training
There is provision for the assignment of functions to the Dental Council in relation to the suitability of education and training, and the standards of knowledge and experience required for basic dental qualifications and for specialist training.
The Council is to ensure that requirements in this country for the qualifications and training satisfy the minimum standards specified in any Directive adopted by the European Economic Community. The Act refers to the basic dental qualifications granted in the State which will give entitlement to registration.
Fitness to Practise
An aim of the 1985 Act was to up-date and extend the disciplinary powers in relation to the practice of dentistry and to ensure that these powers are compatible with the provisions of the Constitution of the State. As well as alleged professional misconduct the Dental Council is empowered to deal with alleged unfitness to practise by reason of physical or mental disability.
The former statutory powers of the Dental Board provided only for the erasure of a dentist’s name from the register. The 1985 Act gave the Dental Council broader powers enabling it
- to erase from the register (sections 39 and 42), but
- to suspend a dentist’s registration (section 39),
- to attach conditions to a dentist’s continuing registration (section 40) and
- to advise, admonish or censure a dentist in relation to his professional conduct (section 41).
Where the Council has decided that a dentist’s name should be erased or suspended from the register, or that conditions be attached to his continuing registration, he will have the right to apply to the High Court for cancellation of the Council’s decision. Provision is also made for the restoration to the register of a dentist’s name which bad been removed.
Practice of Dentistry
The 1985 Act defines “the practice of dentistry” and makes it unlawful for any person other than a registered dentist to practise dentistry or to use the title of dentist, dental surgeon or dental practitioner. There is an exemption from the general prohibition on the practice of dentistry by unregistered persons in the case of registered medical practitioners, students of dental and medical schools, and auxiliary dental workers performing certain dental work in accordance with a scheme made by the Dental Council
Auxiliary Dental Workers
The Dental Council may, with the consent of the Minister, make schemes for the establishment of classes of auxiliary dental workers. Schemes may provide for the determination of the nature of the dental work any particular class of auxiliary dental worker may undertake and for the registration of each such class established.
The Minister may direct the Council to make a scheme for the establishment of a particular class of auxiliary dental worker, including establishment for an exper imental period to enable the value to the public of the existence of that class to be judged.
There is provison for assigning to the Dental Council of functions in regard to any Directive in relation to dentistry adopted by the European Economic Community and the making by the Minister of regulations and adaptations
Provision is made for the continuance for the time being of an agreement concerning registration and control of dentists concluded in 1928 with Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and for the eventual cessation of that agreement. The provisions of this agreement became now unnecessary because of the mutual recognition of dental qualifications between Member States of the European Economic Community, following the adoption by the Community of Directives providing for this and for the harmonisation of dental education and training. Consultation is proceeding with the United Kingdom authorities in relation to the agreement.
The First Schedule contains detailed rules regarding membership and meetings of the Dental Council.
The Second Schedule lists the primary qualifications in dentistry granted in the State which will entitle a person to registration
2020 Act Reforms
The Council is to have rule making power. This rule making power is limited to:
- elections regarding representatives of a class of auxiliary worker to the relevant committee;
- specifying courses of training and examinations for the purposes of recognition of a dental qualification; and
- setting criteria for resuming practising
Draft rules will require the approval of the Minister and will be laid before each House of the Oireachtas.
A person may apply to have a qualification recognised as a dental practitioner qualification or as a dental specialist qualification. The Act provides for the qualifications that are recognised as a dental practitioner qualification. These are the same as the qualifications currently provided for before the 2020 Act.
The 2020 Act provides for the qualifications that are recognised as a dental specialist qualification. These are the same as the qualifications currently provided for in section 30 of the Act.
The 2020 Act provides for a person to apply to be registered as a dental practitioner. The person will be registered if the person has the correct qualification and has proficiency in English or Irish, is fit to practise, and complies with any rule.
There is a provision for registration as a dental specialist.
Decisions and appeals are to be notified to the High Court.
All dentists are annually to give the Dental Council details of any proceedings in the State or another jurisdiction which might result in the dentist being restricted or prohibited from working as a dentist or working in one or more kind of health or social care profession, or if the proceeding could result in a conviction. Dentists also need to provide details within 3 months of the case concluding.
The Council may get information from another health or social care regulatory body in or outside the State in relation to a dentist who has been refused registration; has been suspended; has conditions placed on his/her registration; has a conviction; or in relation to the dentist’s qualification or registration.
Inquiry by Fitness to Practise Committee into conduct of a registered dentist) to include new grounds of complaint. These new grounds are:
- failure to comply with section 32A (Declaration);
- prohibition on providing one or more kind of health or social care in the State or another jurisdiction;
- restrictions on providing one or more kind of health or social care in the State or another jurisdiction.
The 2020 Act allows for conditions to be attached to a dentist’s registration where the dentist has been convicted of an indictable offence.
There is provision for appeals to and confirmation by the High Court where the Council advises or admonishes or censures a dentist following a fitness to practise inquiry.
Where a dentist has been convicted of an indictable offence the Registrar can request information on the dentist’s criminal record from the Garda Síochána and the Registrar can also request a copy of the certificate of conviction from the Registrar/Clerk of the Court which convicted the dentist.
Notification to Minister of name erased or restored and of suspensions imposed and terminated)
The Minister is no longer notified of sanctions and the HSE and any other appropriate persons, including an employer, will be notified.
All sanctions will be notified, including advice, admonish and censure. In relation to sanctions imposed by other states, the Council shall notify the HSE and the employer if it is in the public interest. If the Council believes that the person is registered in another country and that country may not be aware of the sanctions imposed, the Council can notify the relevant body in that country. In relation to sanctions imposed by a third country, the Council can, if it is in the public interest, notify another country where the person is registered.
Information Council may publish in public interest
The Council shall publish all sanctions imposed by the Council. If it is in the public interest, the Council shall also publish sanctions imposed by other countries. The Council shall also, if it is in the public interest, publish part or all of the fitness to practise proceedings.
There is provision for publication of the register on the Council’s website.
Documents in relation to a dentist being prohibited or restricted in providing one or more kinds of health or social care or having a conviction in the State or another jurisdiction, can be admissible as evidence of the facts stated in the documents.
The Council or the Fitness to Practise Committee can specify the form that a person has to complete and can also specify how the form should be completed.
Notifications to a dentist will be sent by pre-paid post to the address on the register and that it will have been deemed to have been delivered three working days after being sent.