Registration Pathways – Dentists
Dentists are Nationally Registered through AHPRA via the Dental Board of Australia.
The functions of the Dental Board of Australia include:
- registering dentists, students, dental specialists, dental therapists, dental hygienists, oral health therapists and dental prosthetists
- developing standards, codes and guidelines for the dental profession
- handling notifications, complaints, investigations and disciplinary hearings
- assessing overseas trained practitioners who wish to practice in Australia
- approving accreditation standards and accredited courses of study.
The Dental Board of Australia is supported by State and Regional Boards which represent each State and Territory. The State and Regional Boards are as follows:
- New South Wales (State)
- Australian Capital Territory, Tasmania and Victoria (Regional)
- Northern Territory and South Australia (Regional)
- Queensland (State)
- Western Australia (State).
These Boards make individual registration and notification decisions, based on national policies and standards set by the Dental Board of Australia. The National Board has formally delegated the necessary powers to the State and Regional Boards.
The National Board has also appointed Committees for each State and Regional Board to deal with the registration of individuals and with notifications. These Committees have also been formally delegated powers to make certain decisions. Committees include:
- Registration and Notification Committee
- Immediate Action Committee.
There is a range of different types of registration to match different levels of training and experience. Most dental practitioners have general registration.
Types of Dental Practitioner Registration
Under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Act, as in force in each state and territory, there is a range of registration categories under which a dental practitioner can practise in Australia. Different categories apply to different types of registration.
Categories of dental practitioner registration are:
- General registration – Divisions:
- Dental Hygienists
- Dental Prosthetists
- Dental Therapists
- Oral Health Therapists
- Specialist registration (dentists only)
- Limited registration:
- postgraduate training or supervised practice
- teaching or research
- in the public interest.
- Non-practicing registration
- Approved Add on courses – these courses are relevant for dental practitioners when considering development of their scope of practice.
- The Board can also grant student registration to dental practitioner students undertaking an approved program of study.
The Australian Dental Council is the accreditation authority responsible for accrediting education providers and programs of study for the dental profession.
Accreditation is the status granted by the ADC to dental and oral health education programs offered by Australian Dental Schools. Using a peer review process, expert Accreditation Review Teams appointed by the ADC assess dental and oral health education programs against explicit standards set by the ADC. Programs that meet ADC standards are granted accreditation. The purpose of accreditation is both to assure the quality of educational programs and to promote improvements in quality. Refer to the Board’s web site for a list of approved programs of study.
Endorsement of registration identifies practitioners with additional qualifications and specific expertise. There are currently two endorsements for dentists:
- area of practice (conscious sedation)
You can refer to the Standards for more information.
There are a number of requirements for new graduates and overseas trained applicants who are applying for general registration:
- Application form for General Registration – The completion of an application form for General Registration which can be located on the Dental Board of Australia (the Board) web site (www.dentalboard.gov.au).
- Proof of Identity – New applicants for registration must provide sufficient evidence of their identity. To see the requirements relating to proof of identity please see the fact sheet on the Board’s web site.
- Criminal History Check – A criminal history check will be conducted by AHPRA. The Board must consider specific factors are considered to determine whether the criminal history of an applicant is relevant to the practice of the dental profession. The Criminal History Registration Standard on the Board’s web site provides detail of the specific factors for consideration.
- English Language requirements – All applicants must demonstrate English language skills. The Registration Standard for English language skills can be found on the Board’s web site. The requirements include:
- Any applicant who can provide verification that their secondary and tertiary qualifications were taught and assessed in English from any of the following countries Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Republic of Ireland, South Africa, UK, USA are exempt from this requirement.
- Applicants who are not eligible for the above exemption must demonstrate English language skills at IELTS academic level 7 or OET with grades of A or B. These test results need to be obtained within two years prior.
- Note: the Board has published an additional Student Update: English language on the web site (www.dentalboard.gov.au) for dental practitioner students graduating this year which states the Board will accept as current an OET or IELTS test result that is more than two years old, provided it is accompanied by proof that the candidate has since been continuously enrolled in a Board approved program of study. The test results need to be provided directly to AHPRA from the testing authority. In addition, in relation to Exemptions, the Board accepts that students who completed the last two years of their secondary education in English meet the requirement of having ‘undertaken and completed secondary education’ taught and assessed in English in one of the following countries where English is the native or first language: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Republic of Ireland, South Africa, United Kingdom and United States of America.
- Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII) – All applicants require appropriate Personal Indemnity Insurance (PII). For full information please refer to the PII Registration Standard on the Board’s website. The requirements include:
- Private practice – Civil liability insurance to cover all aspects of practice, in each context and location of practice, whether in full or part time, paid or unpaid employment (plus retroactivity cover and ‘run-off’)
- Employed practitioners – must be either covered by the employer’s insurance or maintain their own PII. Cover provided to employees must satisfy the standard minimum requirements of the Registration Standard.
Note: Applicants may also be required to prove their immune status to diseases such as tuberculosis, rubella, measles, mumps, chickenpox, herpes simplex virus and hepatitis B virus.
Overseas Qualified Practitioners
Dental Practitioners with overseas qualifications who wish to apply for registration with the Dental Board of Australia should refer to the specific information under the relevant Register and division of the Register of Dental Practitioners in which they are seeking registration.
Register of Dental Practitioners
- Dental Prosthetists
- Dental Hygienists, Dental Therapists and Oral Health Therapists
- Dentists only
There are three pathways to General Registration for dentists with overseas qualifications:
- Dentists who are registered to practice in New Zealand under Trans-Tasman mutual recognition
- Dentists with eligible bachelor degrees from the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, New Zealand and Canada
- Dentists with other qualifications:
- completes an Australian approved course; or
- undertakes the examination procedure conducted by the Australian Dental Council (ADC).
- Dentists who are registered to practise in New Zealand under Trans Tasman mutual recognition
Dentists who are registered to practise in New Zealand are eligible to apply for General Registration under Trans Tasman mutual recognition (this applies irrespective of where training was undertaken). Refer web site for application form.
- Dentists with eligible qualifications from UK, Republic of Ireland, New Zealand and Canada
The Dental Board of Australia has recognised as equivalent for General Registration under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Act 2009 (National Law) the following qualifications:
- Bachelor degrees in dentistry granted by universities in the United Kingdom or the Republic of Ireland (accredited by the General Dental Council)
- Bachelor degrees in dentistry granted by the University of Otago in New Zealand (accredited by the Dental Council of New Zealand); and
- Canadian graduates with degrees of Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) in general dentistry awarded after 31 March 2010 by universities in Canada (accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation of Canada).
Dentists who hold a qualification as listed above are eligible to apply for General Registration. A dentist who applies under this pathway must also be able to demonstrate that they are eligible for registration as a dentist in the relevant overseas jurisdiction in which the qualification was obtained, this will include (where relevant) the completion of an examination or any other pre-requisites required for registration in the relevant overseas jurisdiction.
- Dentists with other qualifications
If qualifications do not meet requirements for registration to practise in Australia, there are two options available. The first is to complete an Australian qualification (a list of Board approved qualifications can be found on the Board’s website) and the second option is to undertake the examination procedure conducted by the Australian Dental Council (ADC).
The ADC is the organization responsible for assessing overseas trained dentists to enable them to obtain registration in Australia. Overseas trained dentists are eligible to undertake the ADC examination procedure if they have completed and passed a dental degree which included at least four years’ full-time academic study at a university recognized by the ADC and are registered as a dentist in their country of training or practice.
The ADC examination process consists of three parts:
- an occupational English test
- a preliminary examination (multiple choice and short answer). This is designed to test the knowledge of the practice of dentistry and of clinical and technical procedures as practised in Australia. This examination can be taken at an overseas venue. The exams are usually held in the first week of March and September each year.
- a final examination. This exam is only held in Australia. A temporary entry visa maybe able to be obtained to sit the course (done at the applicant’s expense). These exams are usually held in two series a July and November series. The scheduling for the examination sessions may be over a period of months. Candidates in the PSDWS are given priority ahead of all candidates.
Note: this process can take some months.
More information about the ADC examination procedure can be found on the ADC’s web site: http://www.adc.org.au/
Limited registration categories that dentists with overseas qualifications may apply, while working towards General Registration, are:
- Public Sector Dental Workforce scheme
- Limited Registration of Dentists for postgraduate training or supervised practice – Other international graduates.
- Limited Registration of Dentists – Public Sector Dental Workforce (PSDW) scheme
Under the PSDW Scheme graduates listed undergraduate dental programs with an equivalent accreditation process to Australia in Canada, Hong Kong, Ireland, Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa, United Kingdom and the United States are eligible to participate (see approved programs at ADC’s website at www.adc.org.au). These eligible participants are granted an exemption from the ADC Preliminary Examination. Registrants in this category of registration must complete the ADC Final Examination within three years of first becoming registered by the Board.
The key requirement of this category of registration is supervised practice in the dental profession and employment in an appropriate public-sector program offered by a dental health service facility operated by the State or Territory government. In addition, the Board must be satisfied that the applicant is qualified for this category of Limited registration and that the applicant has completed a qualification that is relevant to, and suitable for the supervised practice.
- Limited Registration of Dentists for postgraduate training or supervised practice – Other international graduates
This Limited registration for postgraduate training or supervised practice category of registration provides an alternate pathway for registration to the PSDW Scheme for those international graduates from other countries (which are countries not on the list approved by the ADC).
The fundamental requirement of this category of registration is supervised practice in the dental profession and employment with an appropriate public sector program offered by a dental health service facility operated by the State or Territory government. In addition, the Board must be satisfied that the applicant is qualified for this category of Limited registration and that the applicant has completed a qualification that is relevant to, and suitable for the supervised practice.
There is also a requirement for mandatory supervision reports to be provided to the Board.
Registrants in this category of registration must have completed the ADC Preliminary Examination to be eligible to apply for this category of registration and must complete the ADC Final Examination within one year of first becoming registered (this may be extended to two years but only with agreement by the employer).
The following are the Ministerial Council approved a list of specialties for dentists:
- Dento-maxillofacial radiology
- Forensic odontology
- Paediatric dentistry
- Oral & maxillofacial surgery
- Oral medicine
- Oral pathology
- Public health dentistry (Community dentistry)
- Special Needs Dentistry
- Oral surgery.
Specialist registration is available to dentists who either:
- hold a Board approved qualification for the specialty (see Approved Programs of Study – Qualifications for specialist registration); or
- hold another qualification that the Board considers to be substantially equivalent.
Determination of this equivalence may require assessment, for a fee, by the Australian Dental Council or other entities agreed by the Board.
The Board’s Specialist Registration Standard requires all applicants for specialist registration to have completed a minimum of two years general dental practice in addition to meeting all other requirements for general registration as a dentist. This general practice requirement may be achieved by experience outside Australia, subject to assessment and approval by the Board.
Dental Prosthetists – General Registration
Dental Prosthetists who are registered to practice in New Zealand are eligible to apply for General Registration under Trans Tasman mutual recognition (this applies irrespective of where training was undertaken).
Dental Hygienists, Dental Therapists and Oral Health Therapists – General Registration
Dental Hygienists and Dental Therapists who are registered to practice in New Zealand are eligible to apply for General Registration under Trans Tasman mutual recognition (this applies irrespective of where training was undertaken).
Dental Hygienists, Dental Therapists and Oral Health Therapists with other qualifications
If qualifications do not meet requirements for registration to practice in Australia, there are two options available. The first is to complete an Australian qualification (a list of Board approved qualifications can be found on the Board’s website). The second pathway is to undertake the assessment process overseen by the Australian Dental Council (ADC). Information about this pathway to registration in Australia for overseas qualified practitioners can be found on the ADC’s website.
Continuing Professional Development
Dental practitioners are to undertake 60 hours over the three-year period and it is expected the CPD will include a variety of activities that address contemporary clinical and professional issues.