Illegal Practice

What we do​​​

We are here to make sure you get the best standard of care and that the public can be confident that the dental profession is being properly regulated.

Illegal practice

By law, the following groups of professionals have to be registered with us to work in the UK:

  • Dentists;

  • Clinical dental technicians;

  • Dental hygienists;

  • Dental nurses;

  • Dental technicians;

  • Dental therapists; and

  • Orthodontic therapists.

To find out if a dental professional is registered with us you can search our register.

Criminal prosecutions

Section 38 of The Dentists Act 1984 makes it a criminal offence for a person who is not a registered dentist or a registered dental care professional to practise dentistry, or hold themselves out whether directly or by implication as practising or as being prepared to practise dentistry.

In accordance with section 38 of the Dentists Act, we have the power to bring criminal prosecutions where we have sufficient evidence that individuals are practising dentistry without being registered with us.

Under sections 41 or 43 of the Dentists Act we also have the power to bring a prosecution against an individual or company where it is operating the business of dentistry without the majority of its directors being registered with us.

Section 39 of the Dentists Act also makes it an offence for an individual to use any of the following titles, either alone or in combination with any other word, unless they are registered with us:

  • Dentist;

  • Dental surgeon;

  • Dental practitioner;

  • Clinical dental technician;

  • Dental hygienist;

  • Dental nurse;

  • Dental technician;

  • Dental therapist; and

  • Orthodontic therapist.

In order to bring acriminal prosecution, we need to obtain evidence that an offence has taken place.

If we receive information that an offence might be occurring, we can instruct our investigators and solicitors to investigate and gather evidence. Once collected, this evidence goes through the two-stage test set out in the code for crown prosecutors, to assess whether a prosecution may be brought:

  1. Is there sufficient evidence for there to be a realistic prospect of conviction?

  2. If there is, is it in the public interest to pursue the matter to a prosecution?

Where these two tests are passed, our solicitors can take the case to the magistrates' court. A fine can be imposed if the prosecution is successful.

Previous prosecutions

Details of previous prosecutions brought by the GDC can be found in Illegal Practice Prosecutions.

Make a complaint

If you would like to report someone you believe to be practising illegally you can do so in one of the following ways:

  • by completing the online web form;

  • by calling 020 7167 6000;

  • by writing to: Illegal Practice, General Dental Council, 37 Wimpole Street, London. W1G 8DQ​​​

Contact GDC

+44 (0) 20 7167 6000

37 Wimpole Street

London W1G 8DQ


Secure area for dental professionals