Volunteer Patients Needed

School of Dentistry
Liverpool University Dental Hospital
Pembroke Place
L3 5PS
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Stage 1 of 3

The University of Liverpool is committed to equality of opportunity, treating people fairly, understanding and recognising the differences between people. The University Of Liverpool School Of Dentistry has a limited number of places available for volunteers for treatment by student dental professionals as part of their clinical education. We ask for volunteers to contribute to the future of dentistry by allowing a student / trainee to provide some of their dental care.

The Context

Providing care directly to patients is an important part of training to become a registered dental professional. If you choose to have care from a student, the University of Liverpool and the NHS will ensure they are well supervised, provide a good standard of care and ensure patient safety is a priority.

When they qualify, a student dental professional can provide any treatment needed to keep a patient’s mouth, teeth and gums healthy and free of pain. Over the five years of the course, students start with simple treatments carried out on a simulator patient known as a “Phantom Head”. After they have satisfied their supervisors that they are safe to carry out treatments, they are allowed to carry out the same treatments on volunteer patients.

The Volunteer

Ideally the volunteer will be a calm and confident person who is able to place trust students and spare the increased time that is involved in supervised care. They will have conditions of the mouth that do not require urgent or specialist treatment. Such a volunteer can be allocated to a student moving on to care for people following their simulator training, and may work with them over months and years to improve their health. Some volunteers stop treatment in the Dental School after finding that the students all work in large open plan clinics in a busy and quite noisy setting.


You may volunteer for this service if you are not registered with a dentist in the region. To volunteer, you must first express an interest by completing and submitting the (online) registration form. We will need your name, address, telephone number, date of birth and doctor’s details to arrange an assessment screening appointment (Planning and Prevention Clinic) for you to assess whether your dental and oral needs are suitable for student treatment. Please note that no appointment can be made if any of these details are missing. Data protection Policy. If it is found that your and the Dental School’s needs match, the volunteer would be placed on an appropriate student waiting list and be asked to sign a form of agreement that will be placed in their case-notes.

Not everyone is cut out to be a volunteer in this way, and not everyone who volunteers will be accepted for treatment. (Those who are declined will be re-directed to appropriate NHS services).

Clinical Exemptions from Volunteering

There are two underlying reasons for this ‐ Resources within the service and patient safety.

Resources limit the number and type of patients that are accepted for treatment as there are a fixed number of students and dental chairs in the building. Students are required by the guidance of the General Dental Council to manage a range of conditions. This means that unless there is a dental student who is ready to treat the sort of problems a volunteer has (or it is likely that there will be such a student available in the near future) a volunteer will be advised to seek care within general dental practice in the NHS.

Resources may also be a factor if the dental treatment the volunteer would like is complicated or not normally available in NHS general dental services (for instance tooth whitening and dental implants).

There are a number of reasons why potential volunteers may not be suitable for treatment. These are described below.

Volunteers whose anxiety levels are significantly elevated by dental care treatment or, the thought of dental care treatment, that result in unpredictable and /or significant movement, may pose significant challenges to students early in their training. This may in turn may present safety issues when administering treatment for the both the volunteer and student.

Volunteers who have physical or complicated conditions which may be aggravated by the requirement to sit/lay in one position for lengthy periods, thus potentially making them less suitable for treatment.

Volunteers with active disease requiring urgent or prompt treatment, who cannot be allocated to a student within a time frame that would minimise ongoing pain/distress and/or the further advancement of the disease.

Volunteers who may lack the capacity to give minute to minute informed consent in a clinic setting.

Accepted As a Volunteer

Treatment by students is not covered by the National Wait Time Guarantees and there may be long waiting times to commence treatment. You will receive one free course of treatment by a student and once completed, you may then be discharged and will need to register with a dentist for continuing care.

Dealing with Clinical Exemptions

Volunteers declined for treatment by students of Liverpool School of Dentistry will be provided with a local information leaflet to enable them to access mainstream NHS dental care. If for any reason (such as communication difficulties) it proves difficult to achieve a satisfactory outcome at the patients initial visit, a follow up visit to planning an prevention clinic will be arranged along with appropriate support services to ensure appropriate follow up is arranged.