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The Future of: CPD For Dentists

Research completed by Bullock et al found that dentists with over 15 years in general dental practice and those working in single-handed practices may need to be targeted and supported more in their CPD.

Dentist in mask and glasses, holding a light and looking down at the camera

Do you create CPD resources for dentists? If so, read below as we outline key factors affecting what CPD for dentists will look like for the rest of this year and beyond.

A dentist talking to their patient, who's lying in the chair

Soft Skills Needed in CPD For Dentists

The CPD Certification Service states that no two days are ever the same for a dental nurse. Therefore, CPD’s essential to help dentists be competent in the skills they need. The role of a dentist includes anything from maintaining high hygiene levels of equipment and offices, to making patients feel comfortable in an environment where they may feel anxious. These personal skills of tact, caring for patients, and having an attention to detail when keeping equipment clean, are even more important today. This is because today, patients may be apprehensive about catching COVID at the dentists’ office.

Hence, as the CPD Certification Service attests, dentists can no longer only build on their dental knowledge and experience to professionally develop.

Why Might Dentists Fail to Complete CPD?

The General Dental Council (GDC) currently requires dental care professionals to complete at least 50 verifiable CPD hours every 5 years, and at least 10 in every two-year period. This Enhanced CPD measure was introduced as recently as 2018. Therefore, we don’t predict more requirements being added anytime soon.

Currently, a failure to carry out and record the GDC’s CPD requirements can result in an individual being suspended or losing their job. But do dentists have the time to complete these requirements or are they, like pharmacists, overworked and lacking time?

Currently, dentists who take time off/career breaks must still carry out CPD if they’re GDC-registered. With the Great Resignation causing many people to rethink their careers and cancel career-based memberships, this means that dentists are facing struggles in documenting CPD, even enough to leave membership organisations like the GDC.

The BDJ Team magazine for dental care professionals published a study conducted by Dingle and Balmer. Carried out in 2021, this study investigated how COVID-19 affected 1,006 dental nurses. The study found that 32% of respondents reported difficulty paying their annual retention fees to the GDC, and 65% have considered leaving dentistry altogether. 49% reported that COVID-19 has had a negative effect on their personal finances.

Therefore, overall many dentists faced financial struggles due to the pandemic. This has led to many dentists leaving the GDC. Our article about member retention stated that membership organisations should allow members to take breaks from membership, so that you don’t lose members in the long term and they can still return. At the moment, the GDC doesn’t allow this. Dentists who take time off must continue to do CPD if they want to restore their membership in the future. Might the GDC be more lenient about this in future so that they don’t keep losing members? This may be the case, as career breaks are becoming more acceptable today, and many dentists have retired early or switched to working part-time due to Brexit and Coronavirus.

Changing Types of CPD For Dentists

The CPD Certification Service specifies that there are 3 types of CPD that dentists can complete:

• Verifiable CPD – Anything that results in proof that learning took place, and that can be substantiated by someone else, e.g. delivering presentations or attending seminars/workshops.

• Non-verifiable CPD – Other activities that benefit your ongoing learning and development, such as reading books or keeping up-to-date with relevant journal articles.

The CPD Certification Service also notes that there’s no longer an obligation to declare non-verifiable CPD. However, one can and should still complete it if it links in with their personal development plan (PDP).

With remote learning such as independent reading becoming more of a norm than having verifiable attendance at conferences etc., we predict that non-verifiable CPD will have to be declared in future.

New CPD Activities for Dentists

Due to the Coronavirus, dentists now have much more responsibilities. Additionally, hygiene requirements are much more in-depth.

For instance, the Dental Nurse Network, a website providing CPD opportunities for dental nurses, involves new CPD activities. These include being able to spot fake masks and explain the concerns surrounding the transmission of COVID-19 in the dental surgery to understand PPE recommendations. Therefore, we predict that CPD for dentists will incorporate more activities like this, so dentists can operate safely and more effectively in the pandemic.

Furthermore, the Dental Nurse Network’s CPD software is mobile-friendly. Therefore, we expect these new CPD activities to be carried out on-the-go as well as remotely.

Digital Technology in Dental CPD

Delving deeper into how technology is being incorporated in CPD for dentists, the Vulcan Post reported that the New York University College of Dentistry has become the third dental institution in the country to use surgical robot devices in dental implant procedures. The Vulcan Post stated that this development could mean great possibilities for the next generation of dentists, who are currently being trained in these institutions.

We also see this starting to happen in the UK. For instance, the School of Dentistry at the University of Birmingham are part of a £6.1 million research project regarding methods of using ultrasonic tools for complex robot-assisted surgery.

Therefore, overall we see the next generation of dentists being trained to use more complex machines in procedures.


Overall, CPD for dentists has been undergoing some big changes in the past few years, and will continue to do so. It’ll require more soft skills as well as complex technical skills, and must take into account the fact that many dentists have been experiencing financial difficulties. We’ve discussed before that one of the pitfalls of CPD can be its cost making it inaccessible, so this needs to be solved as a matter of urgency when creating CPD resources for dentists.

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