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What is special care dentistry?

Special Care Dentistry is that branch of Dentistry, which provides oral care services (preventive and treatment) for people who are unable to accept routine dental care because of some physical, intellectual, medical, emotional, sensory, mental or social impairment, or a combination of these factors.

Special Care Dentistry is concerned with the improvement of oral health of individuals and groups in society who fall within these categories. It requires a holistic approach that is specialist led in order to meet the complex requirements of people with impairments.

What do Special Care Dentists do?

Special Care Dentists provide oral care for adults with a range of impairments and disabilities. They lead specialised teams to provide expertise and services to facilitate the improvement in oral health for individuals and groups who fall within these categories and have difficulty accessing routine oral care services. Activities are ranging from providing care for individuals with severe medical conditions, to working with carers to improve the oral health of those with profound learning and physical disabilities. Special Care Dentists also provide advice, teaching and training to other dentists and dental care professionals.

What skills should I possess prior to applying to a Specialty Training Programme in Special Care Dentistry?

Entry to training in Special Care Dentistry would normally require a period of Dental Core Year 2 (DCT2) or equivalent. Additionally, possession of a relevant diploma from one of the Royal Colleges, or approved equivalent is usually required.

What is involved in the Special Care Dentistry programme?

The Special Care Dentistry specialty training programme follows a period of three years of training that reflects the nature of Special Care Dentistry by taking place in a variety of primary care, hospital, and community settings. Alongside specialty training Specialist trainees would be encouraged to complete an appropriate UK qualification in Special Care Dentistry such as:

  • Diploma in Special Care Dentistry Royal College of Surgeons of England
  • Membership in Special Care Dentistry Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh
  • Master of Science Degree in Sedation and Special Care

A substantial part of the theoretical aspects of the training programme will be delivered through attendance at a University based course, either through direct attendance or through participation in a distance learning course.

The aims of the training programme are that:

  • The trainee should acquire the appropriate knowledge, skills, attitudes and judgement to meet the oral health needs of individuals and groups in society who have a physical, sensory, intellectual, mental, medical, emotional or social impairment or disability. This will be done through structured training in preparation for a Specialist appointment.
  • It should stimulate a sense of professional interest and enquiry, encouraging the special care dentist to maintain competency and proficiency throughout their career by continuing professional education.

Formal completion of training will be marked by satisfactory summative assessment and success in an Intercollegiate Exit Fellowship Examination.

Where can I get further information?

Training Programme Director & Specialty Training Committee Chair
Vicki Jones – Consultant in SCD

Specialty Training Administrator
Fran Yuen-Lee