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Surgical Royal Colleges work together towards new dental exams

02 May 2024

This follows publication of the General Dental Council (GDC)’s newly revised curricula for dental specialties, which will be introduced from September 2024.

The UK’s three surgical royal colleges are working together to develop a joined-up approach to assessment for dental specialties. This follows publication of the General Dental Council (GDC)’s newly revised curricula for dental specialties, which will be introduced from September 2024.

Currently, most dental specialties have multiple versions of the specialty exam, administered by individual royal colleges, or a combination of colleges.

The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, and the Royal College of Surgeons of England, are now working together to introduce a new, tri-collegiate approach to assessment to cover 10 specialties, supporting trainees to demonstrate the specialist knowledge, skills and capabilities required for progression. Assessment of the remaining dental specialties will remain with the relevant bodies.

Having a single exam for each specialty will enable consistency for trainees across the UK and will provide a clearer training pathway for all specialties, while continuing to support patient safety. COPDEND has set out further information on implications for those on the current curriculum which differ by stage of training and specialty.

For assessments: current assessments will still be provided until academic year 2026-27 to allow for those who are unsuccessful to have an opportunity to sit the current assessment diets during their 12-month extension. New assessments will be in place for academic year 2026-27 for candidates taking their first sitting.

We will set out more details on our approach for new assessments in each curriculum by September 2024. Together with COPDEND, we will continue to keep the dental community updated on these changes including the future application process.

List of specialties to be covered by the new approach:

Dental Public Health


Oral Medicine

Oral Surgery


Paediatric Dentistry



Restorative Dentistry

Special Care Dentistry

List of specialties not covered:

Dental and Maxillofacial Radiology

Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology

Oral Microbiology

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