Oral health

Seeing a dental therapist

A dental therapist is a General Dental Council registered professional who carries out a number of dental treatments directly to patients or prescribed by the dentist.

You might visit a dental therapist for aid in preventative and restorative dental care. Some therapists have further education and can offer other treatments.

Tasks that can be performed by a dental therapist include all of that of the dental hygienist, but with extended duties. These include:

  • Undertaking pulp therapy treatment (to treat and restore the affected tooth) of deciduous teeth (baby teeth)
  • Placing pre-formed crowns on deciduous teeth
  • Administering inferior dental nerve block analgesia under the supervision of a dentist
  • Providing emergency temporary replacement of crowns and fillings
  • Taking impressions and treating patients under conscious sedation provided the dentist remains in the surgery throughout the treatment.

With additional training, however, a therapist can carry out:

  • Tooth whitening to the prescription of a dentist
  • Administer inhalation sedation
  • Remove sutures (stitches) after the wound has been checked by a dentist.

Other responsibilities include the treatment of those with specialist needs, such as those who are anxious, medially compromised, physically disabled, have learning disabilities, high levels of decay or those unable to access regular dental care.

The training required for the role of a dental therapist is about 27 months, depending on the place of study. Places of work include:

  • General practice (NHS or private)
  • Specialist practices
  • Hospitals
  • Community
  • Defence medical services
  • Dental access centres
  • They may set up their own practice and employ dentists.