Information Paper
LegCo Panel on Health Services
Registration of Ancillary Dental Personnel


This paper sets out the background of the proposed registration of ancillary dental personnel (ADP) and latest developments of the issue. In this context, ADP refers to dental therapists (DTs), dental hygienists (DHs), dental technicians (DTechs) and dental surgery assistants (DSAs).


2. The 1991 report of the Dental Subcommittee (DSC) of the then Medical Development Advisory Committee (MDAC) recommended that a statutory registration system for ADP should be introduced. The objectives of the registration system are :

  1. to protect the public from potential health hazards arising from services rendered by unqualified personnel;
  2. to maintain and improve the standards of practice within the disciplines;
  3. to give proper recognition and status to qualified members of the disciplines; and
  4. to establish a framework for the regulation of professional practice and conduct.

3. A separate piece of legislation to regulate the practices of the 4 categories of ADP, modelled on the Supplementary Medical Professions Ordinance (SMPO) (Cap 359), of having a Council and four Boards, was considered appropriate.


4. A table summarising the main characteristics of the ancillary dental professions, including the nature of work, estimated workforce, training opportunities and major employers is at the Annex. The largest workforce is the dental surgery assistants most of whom work in the private sector and do not have any formal training.


5. Two consultation exercises with the ADP groups and the dental profession had been conducted in 1993 and 1996. The first consultation exercise was based on a proposed one-council-multi-board structure. The 1993 consultation exercise found that the ADP were in general in support of the registration proposal, but expressed concern about the structure and representation of the proposed statutory bodies, and the availability of training opportunities to supplement the registration system.

6. A single council option was added in the second consultation exercise, i.e. having one council to regulate the 4 categories of ADP. However, in the 1996 consultation exercise, objections to the compulsory registration of ADP were raised by the dental practitioners and purportedly, the DSAs in the private sector.

7. The Hong Kong Dental Association (HKDA) also raised strong concern on the proposed registration of ADP. It commissioned an independent consultant firm to conduct a survey to solicit the views of its members’ and their DSA’s. To date, the findings of the survey have not been officially released.

8. The main concerns of the dental profession are related to the practices in most countries where some or all their ADP are not registered; adequacy of existing training facilities to provide continuing education for the registered ADP; the ADP manpower supply consequential to registration; and financial and operational implications from the employer’s perspective.


9. In view of the divided views among ADP and the strong concern of the dental profession, in an effort to reconcile the views and concerns with regard to registration, the matter was referred to the Dental Sub-committee for further consideration. At its meeting in September 1996, the Dental Sub-committee recommended that a Working Group on the Registration of Ancillary Dental Personnel be set up to study the issue.

10. The Dental Sub-committee will meet in mid-January 1997 to agree the terms of reference, membership and timetable of the Working Group. Subject to the Working Group’s programme, it will complete its task in about six months.

Department of Health
Health and Welfare Branch
January 1997

Ancillary Dental Personnel in Hong Kong




Dental Surgery Assistants

of Work

Can undertake the following procedures under the supervision of registered dentists :

• cleaning & polishing of teeth

• scaling of teeth

• application of fluoride solutions or other prophylactic solutions to the teeth

• oral health education

Carry out

• simple operative dental work simple extraction preventive measures

• oral health education to patients up to the age of 18, under supervision of dental officers

Do not provide direct service to patients.

They work in dental laboratories and are responsible for the fabrication of dental prostheses to the specifications of dentists.

Assist dentists at the chairside in the treatment and care of patients. They are responsible for :

• preparing patients for dental treatment

• care of equipment, instruments and materials

• simple laboratory procedures (pouring dental impressions)

• oral hygiene instructions



(as at

May 1996)





Training opportunity

1-year certificate course PPDH

3-year certificate course at TSK DTTS

3-year Diploma Course at PPDH

• 1-year Certificate Course at PPDH

• Government
in-service training programme

• In-service training by private dental practitioners


• Government


• Private sector

• Government only

• Government


• Private sector

• Government


• Private sector

Last Updated on 19 August 1998