We are in this together


  Posted by: Dental Design      11th November 2020

“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts” is a familiar quotation first coined by the philosopher, Aristotle.[i] It describes the combined power that can be achieved by a group of individuals or elements when they work or interact together and reiterates the T.E.A.M. acronym – together, everyone achieves more.

Together is better

Providing high quality, comprehensive oral healthcare depends upon a co-operative, collaborative team, working together to deliver the best possible experience and service for every patient. Of course, the dental team is far stronger and greater than any individual alone as it provides a collective body of knowledge, skills and security, which empowers each separate person and improves performance, job satisfaction, and learning, whilst also reducing stress.[ii] Dental professionals gain strength and insight from working as a team, helping them to overcome challenges, resolve conflicts, ensure safety, mitigate errors, learn and improve performance.[iii] Indeed, it has been confirmed that when people work smartly together, it unleashes energy that boosts productivity, engagement, communication and efficiency.[iv]

The power, reassurance and safety of working alongside others should never be underestimated. Dental nurses have a vital role in the dental team providing support within both the clinical and non-clinical aspects of patient care. As well as providing chair-side assistance to clinicians throughout dental treatments and procedures, dental nurses prepare and maintain dental equipment, instruments and materials and often complete infection control and decontamination processes. As registered dental professionals, dental nurses record dental charting, complete administrative tasks and are ready to take action in the event of a medical emergency. Their extensive remit enables clinicians to work efficiently and safely, but also, they enhance the patient’s experience with support and reassurance.

All of this will be second-nature when it comes to dental nurses working with dentists. But why is it so widely accepted that dental hygienists and dental therapists should work alone?

Across all clinicians

The GDC Standards for the Dental Team 6.2 and 6.2.2 states: “You must be appropriately supported when treating patients” and “You should work with another appropriately trained member of the dental team at all times when treating patients in a dental setting”.[v] These standards apply in all situations, except when treating patients in an out-of-hours emergency, delivering care as part of a public health programme or in exceptional circumstances.

The advantages of dental hygienists and dental therapists working with a dental nurse are multiple. Firstly, clinicians benefit from an extra set of hands to deliver more efficient and thorough care in a shorter space of time. There is also the added peace of mind and emotional support that comes from having a second professional opinion or simply having a chaperone in the surgery when treating a patient.

Various professional organisations have interpreted the GDC Standards for the Dental Team and back the ideal of dental nurses working with dental hygienists. For example, Dental Protection cites several very good reasons why this would be sensible in practice, like managing infection control, responding to medical emergencies and chairside assistance.[vi]

Fighting for change

The British Society of Dental Hygiene and Therapy (BSDHT) is also fully behind the concept and is currently working hard to promote the importance of dental nursing support for dental hygienists and dental therapists throughout the UK. The Society is always looking for ways it can assist its members and the wider dental profession, providing a collective voice that is louder than individuals on their own. The goal is to ignite passion and make changes that are necessary to ensure that patients are treated safely and effectively in the dental practice. It also strives to improve the working environment for dental hygienists and dental therapists, so that they can be the very best they can be.

The BSDHT’s campaign is being backed by the British Association of Dental Nurses (BADN) and the Society of Dental Nurses (SBDN), who highlight the importance of dental nursing support for all clinicians. Furthermore, the professional bodies are also working to ensure that dental nurses – as well as dental hygienists and dental therapists – are recognised for their outstanding contribution to dentistry. Especially given the additional work that many DCPs fulfilled throughout the pandemic this year, it is only right that they are fairly supported and rewarded as other GDC-registrants have been.

One goal, one voice

In order to deliver safe, effective and high-quality care to patients, it is crucial that the dental team have all the necessary tools, training and support. This applies to all clinicians – including dental hygienists and dental therapists – and it is vital that this is recognised throughout the profession. We are in this together, so we must help each other.


For more information about the BSDHT, please visit www.bsdht.org.uk

call 01788 575050 or email enquiries@bsdht.org.uk



[i] Aristotle Metaphysics, Book 8, section 1042b.

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0052%3Abook%3D8%3Asection%3D1042b [Accessed 14th September 2020]

[ii] Katzenbach JR and Smith DK. The discipline of teams. Harvard Business Review.1993. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10124632 [Accessed 14th September 2020]

[iii] Salas E. et al. The science of teamwork: Progress, reflections, and the road ahead. American Psychologist 73(4). https://www.researchgate.net/publication/325344115_The_Science_of_Teamwork_Progress_Reflections_and_the_Road_Ahead#:~:text=Nearly%20a%20century%20of%20psychological,team%2Drelated%20processes%20and%20outcomes.&text=There%20are%20also%20helpful%20teamwork,%2C%20communication%2C%20and%20adaptability) [Accessed 14th September 2020]

[iv] Middleton T. The importance of teamwork (as proven by science) Atlassian. Work Life. May 15th 2019. https://www.atlassian.com/blog/teamwork/the-importance-of-teamwork [Accessed 14th September 2020]

[v] General Dental Council. Standards for the Dental Team. Principle. Six. Standards and their guidance. https://standards.gdc-uk.org/pages/principle6/principle6.aspx

[vi] Dental Protection. GDC standards Q&A – Principle 6 – Patients’ best interests. 2014. https://www.dentalprotection.org/uk/articles/principle-6-work-with-colleagues-in-a-way-that-is-in-patients-best-interests [Accessed September 2020]

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