Scopes of practice

The Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act (the Act) describes a scope of practice as the health service that a practitioner registered in that scope of practice is permitted to perform, subject to any conditions for the time being imposed by the responsible authority.

The Council publishes a scope of practice as a Notice in the New Zealand Gazette under section 11 of the Act. 

General dental practice


General dental practice encompasses the practice of dentistry in the maintenance of health through the assessment, diagnosis, management, treatment and prevention of any disease, disorder or condition of the orofacial complex and associated structures in accordance with this scope of practice and a dentist’s approved education, training, experience and competence.

General dental practice includes:

  • diagnosing orofacial conditions and providing appropriate information to patients of diagnosis, treatment or management options and their consequences
  • removing tooth tissue and/or placing materials for either the temporary or permanent restoration or replacement of tooth structure or the rehabilitation of the dentition
  • performing procedures on the orofacial complex, teeth, and the hard and soft tissues surrounding or supporting the teeth
  • extracting teeth
  • administering local analgesia and/or sedative drugs in connection with procedures on the teeth, jaws and the soft tissues surrounding or supporting the teeth
  • prescribing medicines appropriate to the scope of practice, the sale or supply of which is restricted by law to prescription by designated health practitioners
  • prescribing special tests in the course of dental treatment
  • using ionising radiation, for diagnostic purposes, in the course of the practice of dentistry
  • performing procedures on any person to prepare for or carry out the construction, fitting, adjustment, repair, or renewal of artificial dentures or restorative or corrective dental appliances.

Practice in this context goes wider than clinical dentistry to include teaching, research, and management, given that such roles influence clinical practice and public safety. Areas of general dental practice which were not included in a practitioner’s training should not be undertaken unless the practitioner has completed appropriate training and practises to the standards required by the Standards Framework for Oral Health Practitioners.

Prescribed qualifications for the general dental practice scope of practice.

Endodontic specialists


Endodontic specialists practise in the branch of dentistry that is concerned with the morphology and pathology of the pulpo-dentine complex and periradicular tissues. Its study and practice encompass the basic clinical sciences including the biology of the normal pulp, and the aetiology, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases and injuries to the pulp and associated periradicular tissues.

Specialist endodontics is undertaken by a dental practitioner who possesses additional postgraduate qualifications, training and experience recognised by the Council as appropriate for registration. 

Practice in this context goes wider than clinical dentistry to include teaching, research, and management, given that such roles influence clinical practice and public safety. Areas of endodontic practice which were not included in a practitioner’s training should not be undertaken unless the practitioner has completed appropriate training and practises to the standards required by the Standards Framework for Oral Health Practitioners.

Oral and maxillofacial surgery specialists


Oral and maxillofacial surgery specialists practise in the branch of dentistry in that part of surgery which deals with the diagnosis, surgical and adjunctive treatment of diseases, injuries and defects of the human jaws and associated structures.

Specialist oral and maxillofacial surgery is undertaken by a dental practitioner who possesses additional postgraduate qualifications, training and experience recognised by the Dental Council as appropriate for registration.

Practice in this context goes wider than clinical dentistry to include teaching, research, and management, given that such roles influence clinical practice and public safety. Areas of oral and maxillofacial surgery practice which were not included in a practitioner’s training should not be undertaken unless the practitioner has completed appropriate training and practises to the standards required by the Standards Framework for Oral Health Practitioners. 

Oral medicine specialists


Oral medicine specialists practise in the branch of dentistry that is concerned with the oral health care of patients with chronic and medically related disorders of the oral and maxillofacial region, and with their diagnosis and non-surgical management. 

Specialist oral medicine is undertaken by a dental practitioner who possesses additional postgraduate qualifications, training and experience recognised by the Council as appropriate for registration.

Practice in this context goes wider than clinical dentistry to include teaching, research, and management, given that such roles influence clinical practice and public safety. Areas of oral medicine practice which were not included in a practitioner’s training should not be undertaken unless the practitioner has completed appropriate training and practises to the standards required by the Standards Framework for Oral Health Practitioners.

Oral pathology specialists


Oral pathology specialists practise in the branch of dentistry which deals with that nature of diseases affecting the oral, maxillofacial and adjacent regions.

Specialist oral pathology is undertaken by a dental practitioner who possesses additional postgraduate, qualifications, training and experience recognised by the Dental Council as appropriate for registration.

Practice in this context goes wider than clinical dentistry to include teaching, research, and management, given that such roles influence clinical practice and public safety. Areas of oral pathology practice which were not included in a practitioner’s training should not be undertaken unless the practitioner has completed appropriate training and practises to the standards required by the Standards Framework for Oral Health Practitioners. 

Oral surgery specialists


Oral surgery specialists practise in the branch of dentistry concerned with the diagnosis and surgical management of conditions affecting the oral and dento-alveolar tissues.

Specialist oral surgery is undertaken by a dental practitioner who possesses additional postgraduate qualifications and experience recognised by the Dental Council as appropriate for registration.

Practice in this context goes wider than clinical dentistry to include teaching, research, and management, given that such roles influence clinical practice and public safety. Areas of oral surgery practice which were not included in a practitioner’s training should not be undertaken unless the practitioner has completed appropriate training and practises to the standards required by the Standards Framework for Oral Health Practitioners. 

Orthodontic specialists


Orthodontic specialists practise in the branch of dentistry that is concerned with the supervision, guidance and correction of the growing and mature dentofacial structures and includes the diagnoses, prevention, interception and treatment of all forms of malocclusion of the teeth and associated alterations in their surrounding structures.

Specialist orthodontics is undertaken by a dental practitioner who possesses additional postgraduate qualifications, training, and experience recognised by the Dental Council as appropriate for registration.

Practice in this context goes wider than clinical dentistry to include teaching, research, and management, given that such roles influence clinical practice and public safety. Areas of orthodontic practice which were not included in a practitioner’s training should not be undertaken unless the practitioner has completed appropriate training and practises to the standards required by the Standards Framework for Oral Health Practitioners.

 Paediatric dentistry specialists


Paediatric dentistry specialists practise in the branch of dentistry that is concerned with oral health care for children from birth through to adolescence. It includes management of orofacial problems related to medical, behavioural, physical or developmental disabilities. It may include management of adults with special needs.

Specialist paediatric dentistry is undertaken by a dental practitioner who possesses additional postgraduate qualifications, training and experience recognised by the Dental Council as appropriate for registration.

Practice in this context goes wider than clinical dentistry to include teaching, research, and management, given that such roles influence clinical practice and public safety. Areas of paediatric dentistry practice which were not included in a practitioner’s training should not be undertaken unless the practitioner has completed appropriate training and practises to the standards required by the Standards Framework for Oral Health Practitioners. 

Periodontic specialists


Periodontic specialists practise in the branch of dentistry that is concerned with the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases or abnormalities of the supporting tissues of the teeth or their substitutes.

Specialist periodontics is undertaken by a dental practitioner who possesses additional postgraduate qualifications, training and experience recognised by the Dental Council as appropriate for registration.

Practice in this context goes wider than clinical dentistry to include teaching, research, and management, given that such roles influence clinical practice and public safety. Areas of periodontology practice which were not included in a practitioner’s training should not be undertaken unless the practitioner has completed appropriate training and practises to the standards required by the Standards Framework for Oral Health Practitioners. 

Prosthodontic specialists


Prosthodontic specialists practise in the branch of dentistry that is concerned with diagnosis, treatment planning, rehabilitation and maintenance of patients with a range of clinical conditions involving missing or deficient teeth and/or craniofacial tissues, using biocompatible substitutes.

Specialist prosthodontics is undertaken by a dental practitioner who possesses additional postgraduate qualifications, training and experience recognised by the Dental Council as appropriate for registration.

Practice in this context goes wider than clinical dentistry to include teaching, research, and management, given that such roles influence clinical practice and public safety. Areas of prosthodontic practice which were not included in a practitioner’s training should not be undertaken unless the practitioner has completed appropriate training and practises to the standards required by the Standards Framework for Oral Health Practitioners. 

Public health dentistry (or community dentistry) specialists


Dental public health (community) specialists practise in the branch of dentistry that is concerned with the science and art of preventing oral disease, promoting oral health and improving the quality of life through the organised efforts of society.

Specialist public health (community) dentistry is undertaken by a dental practitioner who possesses additional postgraduate qualifications, training and experience recognised by the Dental Council as appropriate for registration.

Please note: Existing specialists may apply to the Dental Council to retain the previous title if they wish.

Practice in this context goes wider than clinical dentistry to include teaching, research, and management, given that such roles influence clinical practice and public safety. Areas of public health dentistry practice which were not included in a practitioner’s training should not be undertaken unless the practitioner has completed appropriate training and practises to the standards required by the Standards Framework for Oral Health Practitioners. 

Restorative dentistry specialists


Restorative dentistry specialists practise in the branch of dentistry that is concerned with dental procedures in the dentulous or partially edentulous mouth. This may include operative, endodontic, periodontic, orthodontic and prosthetic procedures.

Specialist restorative dentistry is undertaken by a dental practitioner who possesses additional postgraduate qualifications, training and experience recognised by the Dental Council as appropriate for registration.

Please note: Restorative Dentistry as a scope of practice is no longer available to new registrants. Only those practitioners who were registered in the scope on 18 September 2004 may practice in this scope. 

Practice in this context goes wider than clinical dentistry to include teaching, research, and management, given that such roles influence clinical practice and public safety. Areas of restorative dentistry practice which were not included in a practitioner’s training should not be undertaken unless the practitioner has completed appropriate training and practises to the standards required by the Standards Framework for Oral Health Practitioners. 

 Special needs dentistry specialists


Special needs dentistry specialists practise in the branch of dentistry that is concerned with the oral health care of people adversely affected by intellectual disability, medical, physical or psychiatric issues.

(NB Special needs specialists who wish to identify their particular expertise in hospital dentistry can apply to the Dental Council to use the specialist title “Special needs dentistry (hospital)”.)

Specialist special needs dentistry is undertaken by a dental practitioner who possesses additional postgraduate qualifications, training and experience recognised by the Dental Council as appropriate for registration. 

Practice in this context goes wider than clinical dentistry to include teaching, research, and management, given that such roles influence clinical practice and public safety. Areas of special needs dentistry practice which were not included in a practitioner’s training should not be undertaken unless the practitioner has completed appropriate training and practises to the standards required by the Standards Framework for Oral Health Practitioners.