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
  • Orthodontic therapists​

Criminal prosecutions

We will bring criminal prosecutions where we have sufficient evidence that individuals who aren’t registered with us are committing offences associated with practising dentistry, operating the business of dentistry or using protected titles.

We publish an Enforcement policy which explains our approach to investigating and prosecuting criminal offences.
More information about the offences we prosecute can be found here. 

We prosecute offences created by the Dentists Act 1984. 

In accordance with section 38 of the Dentists Act, it is 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.

Under sections 41 or 43 of the Dentists Act it is an offence for an individual or company to operate 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
  • Orthodontic therapist

In order to bring a criminal 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 lawyers 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 should be brought:
  • Is there sufficient evidence for there to be a realistic prospect of conviction?
  • If there is, is it in the public interest to pursue the matter to a prosecution?

Where these two tests are passed, our lawyers can take the case to the magistrates’ court. A fine can be imposed if the prosecution is successful and our costs can be awarded to us.

Previous prosecutions

Details of previous prosecutions brought by the GDC can be found in the news section.

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:​
Illegal Practice
General Dental Council
37 Wimpole Street

Related content

Contact GDC

+44 (0) 20 7167 6000

37 Wimpole Street

London W1G 8DQ


Secure area for dental professionals