Royal College of
Dental Surgeons of Ontario
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What can I do if I have a problem with my dentist?


How do I make a complaint?

You can submit your complaint through our website. We cannot accept a complaint by telephone. You can also send your complaint by email or regular mail or audio/video recording.

You will need to provide:

  • A clear statement that you are submitting a complaint.
  • The full name of the dentist.
  • Details 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.

You can submit a complaint at any time as there is no time limitation. You can file the complaint yourself, or have someone act on your behalf, such as a family member, friend or legal advisor, if you wish.

We investigate all complaints. When the College receives your complaint a copy is forwarded to the dentist.  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  make any further comments.

How is my complaint investigated?

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

This investigation includes written submissions from you and the dentist. The investigator may contact other dentists or health care practitioners who have treated you or consulted on your treatment.

An investigator may also contact 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 College's Inquiries, Complaints and Reports (ICR) Committee will review your complaint. The Committee’s mandate is outlined in provincial law. The Committee members include dentists and members of the public who are appointed by the provincial government to represent the views of patients.They may also engage a dental expert to help understand the issues.

You are kept informed at every step of the process.

After the investigation is complete and all of the supporting documentation is received (copies will be sent to you), College staff will present the complete file to the ICR Committee for review. The Committee makes a decision based on the information presented. 

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 (RHPA). The Committee can:

  • Take no 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.
  • Provide advice and recommendations to the dentist.
  • Ask the dentist to enter into an agreement with the College to upgrade some skills.
  • Require the dentist to complete a specified continuing education or remediation program.
  • Require the dentist to appear before the Committee to be cautioned about their 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.
  • Refer the matter to the Discipline Committee to hear specified allegations of professional misconduct or incompetence.
  • 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.

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, conditions and limitations on the dentist’s licence;
  • reprimand the dentist;
  • require the dentist to pay a fine;

In addition, the Discipline Committee will publish a summary of the matter. 

What happens once a decision is made?

Both you and the dentist are sent a copy of the ICR Committee's decision. College staff are not members of the Committee and are not involved in the Committee’s decision-making.

Can the dentist or the patient appeal the decision?

In most cases, there is an appeal process available that provides additional protection for both the patient and the dentist. At the request of either party, an arms-length provincial board - the Health Professions Appeal and Review Board  - may review the Committee’s decision. HPARB panels do not include any health professionals. 

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 start 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?

If the ICR Committee refers allegations of professional misconduct to the Discipline Committee, that information is available to the public on the College website.

Also, if the ICR Committee requires a dentist to attend for a caution and/or requires a dentist to complete a specified continuing education or remediation program, a notation and summary of that information will also be available on the College’s website. While the decision may contain a public outcome, the patient's name will not be posted. 

Is there another option instead of the complaints process?

The College offers a voluntary and confidential program for the resolution of some complaints using alternative dispute resolution (ADR). This 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. Once your complaint is filed, College staff will decide if your complaint is appropriate for ADR. 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 to simplify the issues and help you 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 often much faster than the complaints process. There is usually less correspondence and documentation involved. For some people, these factors may be an important consideration.

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

Sexual abuse complaints

The College offers support to people who report that they have been sexually abused by a dentist. For further details call (416) 961-6555 or 1-800-565-4591.

Click here for more information about the College’s sexual abuse support program.