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Advertising of dental devices

19 December 2018

Advertising of dental devices

The General Dental Council has issued a notice regarding dental advertisements. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) takes a keen interest in ensuring that advertisements are responsible and good for people, society and advertisers. This means making sure that adverts do not mislead, harm or offend those who read them.

The ASA have been reviewing the material concerning the advertising of braces and dental devices and the use of titles.  They have published an Enforcement Notice (which contains detailed guidance) on both topics. The GDC encourages all dental professionals to read and take note of the ASA guidance, now available on the GDC website.

The ASA has looked into concerns over significant number of websites advertising braces and dental devices. Some of these websites have claimed that their brace systems are less painful and have a faster effect than traditional braces. ASA consider such claims would need to be substantiated with robust documentary evidence in the form of high-quality human clinical trials, which they say are yet to see in relation to pain and speed of treatment claims. In the absence of sufficient substantiation, claims such as “less painful” and “faster treatment” should not be used.

The guidance includes a description of three case studies where ASA considered that the evidence presented to back up the advertisements claims were insufficient.

In the guidance, ASA provide advice on what is good evidence to back up advertising claims, using the example 'What makes a good clinical trial for “faster treatment” and “less painful” claims?'

  • New objective claims should be backed up by evidence in the form of at least one experimental human study (ideally double blind and placebo-controlled)
  • Use human subjects for the assessment of faster treatment and less painful claims
  • Remember a body of evidence focuses on the quality of data and studies being peer-reviewed by an independent expert or through peer-reviewed journals will generally hold more weight
  • Fair trials, where each patient and the treatment they receive can be compared fairly ie: the same amount of extractions performed within the same time frame

ASA encourages all dental practitioners take immediate action to review their advertising, including online. 

The guidance also includes advice around the use of the 'Dr' title by dentists.

Read the full guidance here



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