If you're unsatisfied with the treatment, behaviour or service you have received from a registered dental professional, you can raise a concern or make a complaint. There are different ways of doing this, depending on the circumstances.
In most cases, the best way to get a resolution to your complaint is raising it directly with the place where you were treated, for example if you want an explanation or an apology.
Every practice (or other location where you had your dental treatment) must have a procedure for handling patient complaints, and must follow it. If you want to make a complaint to the practice you can ask for a copy of the procedure which will explain what you need to do.
There are patient support organisations that can help you to raise a complaint with a healthcare provider or help you if you are not happy with their response to your complaint.
If you would rather not go directly to the practice, you can contact the NHS instead. The NHS is responsible for commissioning (buying) NHS dental services.
If you are not happy with the way in which your formal complaint was handled (either by the dental practice or the NHS) you can contact the Ombudsman. The Ombudsman makes the final decision on complaints that have not been resolved by the NHS.
Patients in England – The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO)
Patients in Northern Ireland – The Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman (NIPSO)
Patients in Scotland – The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO)
Patients in Wales – The Public Services Ombudsman for Wales (PSOW)
If you have already made a formal approach to the practice, and the problem has not been resolved, you can contact the Dental Complaints Service (DCS). The DCS provides a free and impartial service to help private dental patients and dental professionals to settle complaints about private dental care fairly and efficiently.
If your private treatment was through a dental plan, you should contact your plan provider as they will have a complaints process.
If the problem is so serious that you think the dental professional could be a risk to other patients then you should let us know. If the issue is serious enough, we can stop individuals from practising.
Please take a moment to read this section. It will help make sure that you are complaining to the right organisation.
Give you a detailed explanation of what happened to you - this can only come from the dental practitioner or the dental organisation;
Make a dentist give you the treatment you want;
Help you with a claim for compensation;
Find a dentist;
Make a dentist give you access to your dental records;
Make a dentist apologise to you;
Make a dentist reinstate or add you to their practice's list of patients;
Make a dentist change their fees for private treatment;
Make changes to your dental records;
Investigate general concerns about how a dental practice is run;
Change the outcome of a local investigation into your complaint;
Look into complaints about healthcare professionals who are not dentists or dental care professionals; or
Take action against a dentist if there is no risk to patient safety, or to public confidence in dentists
If we identify serious concerns about a dentist we can, where appropriate, take action on their registration.
These are examples of the types of issues we may need to investigate:
Serious or repeated mistakes in patient care;
Failure to respond reasonably to a patient's needs, including referring for further investigations where necessary;
Violence, sexual assault or indecency;
Any serious criminal offence;
Discrimination against patients, colleagues and others;
Serious breaches of a patient's confidentiality; and
Serious concerns about knowledge of the English language
If the problem is so serious that you think the care provided at the practice could be a risk to other patients, there are four regulators which set standards for dental providers and can consider whether these are being met.
Care Quality Commission (CQC) regulates all primary dental care services in England - both private and NHS.
The Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) is Northern Ireland's independent health and social care regulator. It can investigate complaints regarding private care/health care from independent (private) healthcare providers.
Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) has responsibility for the regulation of independent healthcare services in Scotland, previously the responsibility of the Care Commission.
Healthcare Inspectorate Wales (HIW) is the independent inspectorate and regulator of all healthcare in Wales.
You can find more information about the different organisations that can help in our Who can help section.