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Children in Dentistry

Guidelines – General Principles

The welfare and protection of children is of paramount importance to the Dental Council. 

1. Parent and Guardian accompanying their child

In general, parents have the right to accompany their child into the dental surgery and remain during the course of dental treatment. 

Should a parent not attend or waive the right to remain in the surgery during the child’s treatment a third person, who could be a dental nurse, must be in attendance at all times while the child remains in the surgery.  Should the third party leave for any reason another person must take their place.

2. Consent

Consent must be obtained from a parent or guardian prior to treating children under the age of 16.  The child’s interest is of paramount importance and, regardless of their age, they should be involved in the decision making processes.  A 16 or 17 year old may give their consent to treatment as if they were an adult. 

3. Mandatory Reporting

Dentists are mandated professionals under the Children First Act, 2015 and have a statutory obligation to report instances where a child was or is at risk of being harmed to Tusla, the Child Protection Agency. 

Dentistry is designated as relevant work under the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Adults) Act, 2012 to 2016.  If a dental surgery treats children or vulnerable adults it is regarded as a relevant organisation and the organisation is obliged to ensure that any members of the dental team who are involved in the treatment of children or vulnerable adults are vetted by the Garda National Vetting Bureau.  

4. Child Safeguarding Statement and Risk Assessment

Under the Children First Act, 2015 dentists are obliged to carry out a risk assessment in their surgeries and to put a Child Safeguarding Statement in place. 

The Act sets out the contents of what must be included in this statement and it places an obligation on dentists to specify a range of procedures including dealing with complaints and how the suitability of new staff to work with children is assessed.  This statement must be displayed prominently and be available for people to inspect on request.  All staff must be given a copy of the statement and be aware of its provisions.  The statement must be reviewed every two years. 

Useful Professional Reference material

The Dental Council recognises that circumstances may arise from time to time where a member of the dental team may be unsure of their obligations and the following documents and links are provided as an assistance.

1. Consent

National Consent Policy (Tusla)

Consent – A Guide for Health and Social Care Professionals (HSE)

Consent to medical treatment in Ireland Guide for clinicians (MPS)

2. Mandatory Reporting

Children First Act 2015

Children First National Guidance 2017 (Tusla)

National Vetting Bureau Act 2012

3. Useful Web Resources 

Mandated Persons – Responsibilities and Process (Tusla):  

Children First (Tusla):

Garda National Vetting Organisation: