Staff Appearance

Tags: Apperance, Audit, Policies, Uniform


All members of staff must take a sensible and safe approach to their dress and appearance, cleanliness and personal hygiene.

Every member of staff has a responsibility for promoting a professional and positive image of the practice.

Clothing and appearance should not deliberately cause offence to people who come into contact with the practice.


Every dental practice should have an established policy in place stating the practices position regarding standards of dress and appearance of all employees; including temporary contractors and agency workers.

The practice should devise a policy that considers the way employees dress and their appearance to be of significant importance in the safety of patients, team members and also in portraying a professional image to all service users. Appearance and uniform protocols should be topics that are discussed at interview stage and induction.

It is also good practice to refresh staff members knowledge of the staff appearance policy during team meetings.

The policy should be reviewed and updated annually by the practice manager. A more frequent review might be required should anything in the practice alter that affects the contents of the policy.

The registered provider of the practice has overall responsibility, and the registered/practice manager has the day to day responsibility. Employees have the responsibility to adhere to the content of the practice policy.

Appearance Checklist

There are numerous guidelines that a staff member must comply with; however there are also considerations which are at the practice discretion.

The practice should always consider how patient’s perceptions of the practice may vary dependent on the appearance of staff members.

Isopharm have devised a generic checklist below. You may wish to add or remove articles listed.

  • Clothing worn should be appropriate for the work being undertaken.
  • PPE must be provided and worn when applicable to the risk assessment or as directed in accordance with the Health & Safety requirements
  • Employees are required to have a clean appearance.
  • Suitable footwear should be worn for the duties undertaken.
  • Practice uniform should be worn throughout working hours and maintained in a clean and tidy condition.
  • Avoid wearing jewellery as they can be potentially hazardous.
  • Small studs in ears or sleepers are more appropriate when working in patient areas – It is advisable to have only one set of earrings.
  • Hair styles and colours must be approved by the practice.
  • Long hair always should be tied back – long hair is deemed as hair that has grown passed the shoulders.
  • During periods of warm weather staff clothing must remain appropriate and suitable.
  • Clothing should not over expose parts of the body.
  • Visible tattoos should be approved by the practice.
  • Visible piercings should be approved by the practice.
  • Rings are not allowed to be worn in clinical areas – a wedding ring is permitted but the skin beneath must be washed and dried thoroughly.
  • Nails must be kept short – short nails are classified as nails that have not grown passed the fingertip.
  • Hand cream should be used to protect hands.
  • Medical watches are allowed in clinical areas.

HTM 0105 6.8 Fingernails should be kept clean, short and smooth. When viewed from the palm side, no nail should be visible beyond the fingertip. Staff undertaking dental procedures should not wear nail varnish and false fingernails.

HTM 01-05 6.9 Rings, bracelets and wristwatches should not be worn by staff undertaking clinical procedures. Staff should remove rings, bracelets and wristwatches prior to carrying out hand hygiene. A wedding ring is permitted but the skin beneath it should be washed and dried thoroughly, and it is preferable to remove the ring prior to carrying out dental procedures.

HTM 01-05 6.7 Hand cream, preferably water-based, should be used to avoid chapped or cracking skin.

Clinical Uniform Contents

A clinical uniform may consist of the following items:

  • Tunic
  • Scrub Trousers
  • Closed Toe Shoes
  • Name Badge
  • Religious Head Wear

The uniform and surgery shoes should not be worn outside the practice at any time. Staff should travel to and from work in their own clothes. The staff should change from their own clothes into work uniforms in the designated change area at the practice. All footwear must be safe, sensible and appropriate to the working environment.

HTM 01-05 6.32 Clothing worn to undertake decontamination should not be worn outside the practice; adequate changing and storage facilities that are accessible from the decontamination area should be provided. A similar approach is recommended for clinical clothing.

All items of your uniform must be changed daily and washed to prevent cross contamination. The uniform needs to be washed at the highest temperature suitable for the fabric, always check the manufacturer’s instructions before washing. Washing the uniform at high temperatures can reduce any potential microbial contamination.

HTM 01-05 6.34 Clothing/uniforms can become contaminated with microorganisms during procedures. It is important that freshly laundered uniforms are worn everyday. Sufficient uniforms for the recommended laundry practice should be provided, as staff who have too few uniforms may be tempted to reduce the frequency of laundering.

HTM 01-05 6.35 Uniforms and workwear should be washed at the hottest temperature suitable for the fabric to reduce any potential microbial contamination (see the Department of Health’s (2010) ‘Uniforms and workwear: guidance on uniform and workwear policies for NHS employers’).

The tunic should be short sleeves which then will allow for the nurse to carry out a through clinical or surgical scrub. If a nurse or clinician needs to wear full sleeves due to medical reason or religious purposes then those staff need to wear disposable sleeves. No cardigan or jumper must be worn in the clinical area.


The policy should be audited annually to establish its impact upon the quality of patient care and safety.

The audit will assess, monitor and improve the quality and safety of all services provided through regulated activity and should aim to continuously improve the experience of service users.

During an audit process the appropriate managers and area leads need to measure the extent to which the practice policies are:

  • Fit for purpose
  • Credible
  • Clear and well defined
  • Well communicated
  • Current – incorporating changes in the law or regulations
  • Being observed

By Charlotte Cash