How To File A Complaint

Every complaint that is received by the College is thoroughly and objectively investigated. We consider every complaint we receive carefully.


What should I do if I have a problem with my dentist?

Patients are encouraged to discuss the problem with their dentist. If you still have concerns, please contact us.



How do I contact the College?

Royal College of Dental Surgeons
6 Crescent Road

Toronto, ON M4W 1T1

phone: 416-961-6555

toll-free: 1-800-565-4591

fax: 416-961-5814 Attention: Complaints

e-mail: complaints@rcdso.org

website: www.rcdso.org



Can I talk to someone at the College about my concerns?

Before you make a formal complaint to the College about unsatisfactory dental care, you may wish to discuss your concerns directly with your dentist.

The College offers a Professional Practice Advisory Service for both dentists and the public. Dedicated staff can provide information and advice regarding practice-related questions involving clinical, regulatory, and ethical issues. College staff is not able to give advice on specific treatment situations or refer patients to specific dentists.



How do I make a complaint?

If you wish to proceed with a complaint, send us your complaint in writing, by e-mail, surface mail, or on audio or videotape. We cannot accept a complaint by telephone.

We will need to have the following information:

  • a clear statement that you are submitting a complaint;
  • the full name of the dentist;
  • as much detail as possible about your concerns;
  • the names of other dentists, health care practitioners or other persons that may have relevant information;
  • your daytime phone number and your mailing address.


Is there a time limit for making a complaint?

No, you can make a complaint at any time.



Do I need a lawyer?

No, however, you are entitled to have legal representation if you wish.



Who deals with my complaint?

The College's Inquiries, Complaints and Reports (ICR) Committee will consider your complaint. The mandate of this Committee is outlined in provincial law. The Committee members include both dentists and members of the public who are appointed by the provincial government to represent the views of consumers.



How does the process begin?

We investigate all complaints. When the College receives your complaint, a copy is forwarded to the dentist. Then the dentist has 30 days to submit a written response to the College. You will have an opportunity to review the dentist’s response and to make any further comments.



What happens next?

Your complaint is fully and impartially investigated by College staff. You are kept informed of every step of the process. The investigation is limited to your specific complaint.

This investigation includes written submissions from both you and the dentist. Any other dentists or health care practitioners who have treated you, or consulted on your treatment, may be contacted.

An investigator may also formally get in touch with any third-party insurers involved, such as your insurance company.

As part of this process, we usually request relevant records, x-rays, dental charts, and other information from the dentist.

The dentist has the duty to co-operate fully with the investigation. The Committee may also engage a dental expert to help it.

You are kept informed at every step of the process.

After the investigation is complete and all of the supporting documentation is received, College staff will present the complete file to the ICR Committee for its review. The Committee then makes a decision based on the documentation placed before it.



How will the ICR Committee deal with my complaint?

There are a number of options available to the Committee under the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991 (RHPA).

  • Take no further action if the dentist’s conduct and/or actions meet reasonable and acceptable standards of practice or if there is insufficient information for the Committee to take action.

  • Require the dentist to appear to be cautioned about his or her practice or conduct. The ICR Committee will discuss its concerns with the dentist and make suggestions that it believes the dentist must take to avoid future difficulties.

  • Provide guidance to the dentist on how to improve his or her practice. For example, sometimes the dentist will enter into an agreement with the College to undertake remedial educational programs or upgrading.

  • Refer the dentist to another panel of the ICR Committee for investigation of possible mental or physical health concerns that might interfere with the dentist's ability to practise.

  • Refer the matter to the Discipline Committee to hear specified allegations of professional misconduct or incompetence.

If a panel of the Discipline Committee, during a formal and public hearing, finds that a dentist has committed an act of professional misconduct, it may:

  • suspend or revoke the dentist’s licence;
  • impose terms, condition, and limitations on the dentist’s licence;
  • reprimand the dentist;
  • require the dentist to pay a fine;
  • publish a summary of the matter.


What happens once a decision is made?

Once the panel of the ICR Committee reaches a decision, both you and the dentist will be sent a copy of the decision. College staff are not members of the Committee, nor are they involved in any way in the Committee's decision-making.



Is there an appeal process?

In most cases, there is an appeal process available that provides additional protection for both the patient and the dentist. On request of either party, an arms-length provincial board called the Health Professions Appeal and Review Board may review the Committee’s decision.



Can the ICR Committee award money or damages?

The law governing health professionals only permits the ICR Committee to make a decision about the dentist’s conduct. The Committee cannot, by law, award compensation of any kind. Only the courts have that authority. Click here for more information.

If you are considering suing a dentist for compensation as a result of negligence or malpractice, the law requires that legal action must be commenced within two years after you knew, or ought to have known, the facts on which your suit is based. Your legal advisor can answer any questions that you might have about your rights to sue a dentist.



Are the decisions of the ICR Committee available to the public?

All information relating to the investigation and resolution of a complaint is held in the strictest confidence, as required by current legislation.



Is there another option instead of the complaints process?

The College offers a voluntary and confidential program for the resolution of some complaints by a negotiated settlement, as an alternative to the formal investigation process. This option is called alternative dispute resolution (ADR). It provides an opportunity for you and the dentist to reach a negotiated settlement.



Is ADR always an option?

ADR is not suitable for all complaints. College staff will decide if your complaint is appropriate for ADR. Both you and the dentist must agree to participate for ADR to proceed.



How does ADR work?

A facilitator will work with you and the dentist in a respectful and confidential way to simplify the issues and enhance your ability to reach a settlement that is agreeable to both of you.

The facilitator is a neutral person, not a member of the College’s staff or a College committee. The College pays for any reasonable costs and expenses of the facilitator.

ADR is usually much faster than the complaints process. There is usually less correspondence and documentation involved. For some, these factors may be an important consideration. However, there is no right of appeal of the final settlement.

If, for some reason, the ADR process does not result in a negotiated settlement, your complaint will be processed in the usual way through the normal complaints process.



Sexual abuse complaints

There are a variety of situations in which you may be eligible for funding for counselling or therapy. For further details you can call (416) 961-6555 or 1-800-565-4591.


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