What do dental therapists do?

We’re delighted to welcome Katie to our team. Katie, our latest recruit, is a Dental Therapist and some of you might be curious as to what a Dental Therapist is and what one does. So we thought we’d help explain for you…

The Dental Therapy profession can be traced back to 1917 where at the time there was a desperate shortage of school service dental officers and the Armed services were recruiting registered (University trained) dentists for World War I. In response to this shortage, some countries in England trained Dental Dressers, this small group of new health care professionals were the first Dental Therapists in the world. Their duties where based on American hygienist with the additions of filling cavities caused by tooth decay and the extraction of teeth in school clinics.

In 1920, New Zealand established a School Dental Service and the formal training of Dental Therapists. As they worked in rural communities they were the first contact point for patients with dental problems. This scheme continues today and has been copied by many countries in the world where there is a rural population.

By 1950, back in the UK, there was once again the desperate shortage of dentists on the local school services and childrens’ dental health was worsening. Dental Therapists again filled this gap (no pun intended!).

From the 1950s to 2002 due to the Dental Act, Dental Therapists where only permitted to work in the community and hospital dental services. In 2002, after years of pressure from the British Association of Dental Therapist, the Dental Act was finally reviewed and amended.

What it means for you

Dental Therapists were finally allowed to work in general practice in both public and private sectors. Over the years the training and qualifications to become a registered Dental Hygienists and Dental Therapist have merged resulting in dual diploma qualification or BSc in Dental Health.

What do dental therapists do

Meet Katie, our new dental therapist.

So, what does this mean to you? Dental care is developing, Dentists can now delegate a greater proportion of their duties to other dental care professionals.

In regards to dental therapists this may result in you visiting a therapist for a filling, rather than seeing your dentists.

This delegation of treatment is seen throughout other healthcare settings, for example you may see a practice nurse for a medical appointment rather than the doctor, or you may be referred to a physiotherapist for rehabilitation after an injury.

Dental care professions have a scope of practice, that is a list of treatment that they can provide as stated by the General Dental Council (the Dental Regulator).

These are the range of procedures which a Dental Therapist can carry out:

  • Intra and extra oral assessment
  • Record indices and monitor disease
  • Periodontal treatment (treatment for gum disease)
  • Apply materials to teeth such as fluoride and fissure sealants
  • Take Dental Radiographs (X-ray)
  • Provide dental health education on a one to one basis or in a group situation
  • Routine restorations (Fillings) in both deciduous and permanent teeth, on adults and children, from Class 1-V cavity preparations
  • Can use all materials except pre cast or pinned placements
  • Treat adults as well as children
  • Extract deciduous (Baby) teeth under local analgesia
  • Pulp therapy treatment of deciduous teeth
  • Placement of preformed crowns on deciduous teeth
  • Administration of Inferior Dental Nerve Block analgesia and Infiltration analgesia (dental Injections)
  • Emergency temporary replacement of crowns and fillings
  • Take impressions
  • Treat patients under conscious sedation provided the dentists remains in the surgery throughout the treatment.

We are all delighted to welcome Katie who will be able to carry out simple restoration to the highest possible standard. These changes mean we are able to offer a wider range of choices for appointments and providers.

If you’d like to book an appointment or have any concerns about your overall oral health, give us a call on 01736 661361.