What is a Dental Therapist

What is a Dental Therapist?

Most of you have probably noticed the new face at Boldmere. I’m Maddy, a Dental Therapist I have just moved to the area from Leeds. I qualified from the University of Manchester in 2014, graduating with an honours BSc in Oral health Science.  I really love my job and I am passionate about helping people achieve oral health. I want to work with patients to create a positive dental experience.

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So what is a Dental Therapist?

It all began as early as the first world war. It was difficult to recruit dentists and there was a growing need for dental care for children. The introduction of ‘Dental Dressers’ was piloted in a few local authorities, who could clean, fill and extract children’s teeth under the direct supervision of a dentist. However, this role met opposition from the government and in 1923 the practice was dropped.

By the end of the second world war there was a noted increase in dental need again. The UK then took inspiration from New Zealand who had developed a similar role to Dental Dressers and by the 1950’s this role was introduced in the UK. This practice was developed in addition to Dental Hygienists who were first trained by the Woman’s Auxiliary Air Force in 1943.

Dental Therapist’s Role in Dentistry Today

The Dental Therapy role was only applicable in a hospital or community setting until 2002 when they were permitted to work within general dental and private practice. Since 2002, the role has developed with direct access; meaning you can see a Dental Hygienist or Therapist without having to see a dentist first, improving access to care. Now many of the training programmes for Dental Hygienists and Therapists are combined. There are a growing number of courses available to increase our skill set. Currently the British Dental Hygiene and Therapy associations are campaigning for the right to prescribe things such as local anaesthetic and fluoride without a dentist.

What can we do?

We can provide a range of treatments as part of your care, such as:

  • Carry out intra and extra oral health assessments, including oral cancer screening.
  • See adult and child patients.
  • Diagnose and treat gum disease.
  • Take X-rays.
  • Provide preventative advice and treatments, for example; helping you to improve your brushing routine, diet advice, apply fluoride treatments, fissure sealants and smoking cessation.
  • Scaling and hygiene treatment, including care of your implants.
  • Maintenance visits.
  • Extractions of baby teeth.
  • Emergency temporary restorations/ re-cement crowns with temporary cement.
  • Tooth whitening.
  • Suture removal.

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What does this mean for you?

As part of your patient journey you may be asked to attend an appointment with myself which could be for any of the treatments mentioned above. This sharing of the workload can be likened to seeing a practice nurse for some appointments instead of your GP.  It can help reduce waiting times and increase the level of care that we can give you.

I look forward to seeing you at your next visit.

British Dental Association . (). The Story of Dentistry Timeline.Available: https://www.bda.org/museum/the-story-of-dentistry/timeline. Last accessed Jan 2019.
General Dental Council . (2013). Scope of Practice UK . Available: https://www.gdc-uk.org/professionals/standards/st-scope-of-practice . Last accessed Jan 2019.
Rowbothan J, Godson J, Williams S, Csikar J – BDJ. (2009). Dental therapy in the United Kingdom: Part 1. Developments in therapists’ training and role.Available: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/38030920_Dental_therapy_in_the_United_Kingdom_Part_1_Developments_in_therapists%27_training_and_role . Last accessed Jan 2019.



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