The British Orthodontic Society has cautiously welcomed the GDC’s statement earlier this week on ‘direct-to-consumer orthodontics’.
In its statement, the GDC says direct-to-consumer orthodontics still requires face-to-face interaction.
It also points out that orthodontic treatment is the practice of dentistry, requiring registration with the General Dental Council (GDC).
‘The British Orthodontic Society has made representations to the GDC in writing, expressing our concerns and grave misgivings about the practice of direct-to-consumer orthodontics,’ director of external relations, Peter McCallum said.
‘It is gratifying to see a response to our efforts.
‘We are glad to hear that the GDC are in communication with DIY brace providers.
‘And we look forward to hearing the results of their evidence gathering.’
The GDC says it is continuing to gather evidence about the potential risk to patients from direct to consumer orthodontics.
It claims it is working with providers to seek clarification on procedures and registrants’ involvement.
The regulator says it will provide a further statement once it evaluates all evidence.
‘The British Orthodontic Society took a strong standpoint in this matter,’ Mr McCallum continued.
‘We were always firmly of the view this was the illegal practice of dentistry and we are pleased that the GDC now shares our view.
‘And we sincerely hope the GDC are actively searching for those who are contravening the legislation.
‘We will continue to urge the GDC to protect the public and maintain professional standards.’
‘Teledentistry’ has received mixed feedback from the profession, with some questioning whether these companies are taking advantage of the profession.
With direct to consumer orthodontics, patients fill out a questionnaire and sends photos, before arranging for an intra oral scan or some form of ‘do it yourself’ home impression kit.
The whole treatment is overseen by an unnamed ‘dentist’ or ‘orthodontist’.
‘My concern is twofold,’ Neel Kothari, NHS dentist and Dentistry.co.uk contributor said.
‘Firstly, advertisements mislead some patients into thinking treatments include the safeguards of seeing a UK-registered dentist or an orthodontist.
‘Secondly, if things go wrong, will the profession pick up the pieces?
‘In my opinion, teledentistry companies are removing inconvenient safeguards that don’t fit their business model and gambling that things go well.
‘This is a little like removing bricks from the game Jenga and hoping that the tower doesn’t topple.
‘If it transpires that patients have suffered harm as a result, the GDC needs to decide whether it wants to be on the right side of history, because at the moment their silence is deafening.’