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Collection of extracted human teeth in decline: working knowledge and understanding of the Human Tissue Act by UK-registered dentists


Introduction For many years, the dental profession has collected extracted human teeth for use in education and research. Since the enactment of the Human Tissue Act (HTA) in 2006, we have observed a fall in research outputs from the United Kingdom utilising extracted teeth for research.

Aims To determine the working knowledge and understanding of the HTA of dentists in the UK who could potentially collect extracted teeth for use in teaching and research.

Design A postal/online questionnaire.

Materials and methods A printed questionnaire and pre-paid return envelope, which sought to assess both the knowledge and understanding of the participants concerning the HTA as it applied to the collection of extracted teeth, was mailed out to 500 UK-registered dentists. The potential participants were selected at random from the General Dental Council online registers.

Results A total of 254 completed questionnaires were received (response rate = 50.8%). Prior to September 2006, 65.6% of respondents had collected teeth. After this, only 37.8% did so. This was statistically significant (P <0.001).

Conclusions Confusion surrounded the collection and use of extracted teeth, which hampered dental education and research. To address this, there is a need for clarity on the legal issues.

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Correspondence to R. Graham Chadwick.

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Qutieshat, A., Mason, A. & Chadwick, R. Collection of extracted human teeth in decline: working knowledge and understanding of the Human Tissue Act by UK-registered dentists. Br Dent J 228, 351–354 (2020).

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