In a dental setting such as orthodontic practice, specialist periodontal or simply general practice, a dental therapist can take up the duty of both their own and a hygienist. Therefore, they are the most suitable for community-based clinics in first world countries. They focus mainly on preventative dental health and treatments, and often work under the supervision of a dentist.
Who are Dental Therapists?
Though they don’t work independently, dental therapists are authorized to provide the procedures performed by a dentist and the extensive services by a Dental Hygienist. Dental Therapist typically focuses on preventative dental health and treatment, helping patients keep their gums and teeth healthy. In a community, a Dental Therapist will be the primary physician, tending to your oral issues and injuries.
A Dental Therapist will specialise in:
- Preventive dentistry
- Dental health education
- Dental pathology
- Basic restorative procedures for temporary and permanent teeth
- Primary teeth, also known as baby teeth extraction
- Radiography and pharmacology
Dental Therapist scope of practice
Dental Therapists are responsible for patient’s dental check-ups, restorative treatment and pulpotomies. They are certified and trained to administer local anaesthetics, take X-rays, provide hygienic services, and insert stainless-steel crowns. On the daily basis, a Dental Therapist jobs includes:
- Intra and extra oral assessment
- Record symptoms for patient’s future references and monitor the progress of said diseases
- Periodontal treatment, cure gum diseases
- Use materials such as fluoride and fissure sealants to mend teeth
- Administer and take dental radiograph
- Counsel individual oral health or in group settings
- Follow up care or routine restoration treatments on patients with Class 1-V cavity, on both adults and children
- Administer Inferior Dental Nerve Block analgesia and Infiltration analgesia (dental Injections)
- Perform pulp therapy, extract deciduous or adult teeth
- Perform temporal replacement of crowns and fillings
- Take teeth impressions
- Work in collaboration with other dentist to surgically treat sedated patients
- Scale and polish teeth
- Provide care of implants and treatment of peri-implant tissues
Becoming a Dental Therapist isn’t going to be as arduous and enduring as a Dentist does. The path to begin your career as a dental therapist is much more comfortable. First, you’ll need to begin by earning a Bachelor’s Degree in the related science field or a Diploma which would take 27 months to complete. Prior to attending a training school, you’ll need to demonstrate your awareness of the profession by undergoing training at a clinic or shadowing a dentist at a healthcare setting.
To become a certified Dental Therapist, you’ll also have to sit through examinations accredited by the General Dental Council (GDC), and may have to retake the registration test regularly. Many schools do offer the combined courses, allowing you to get certified as a hygienist and therapist all together.
Qualities of a Dental Therapist
The education path of a Dental Therapist isn’t difficult, however, to become a competent and successful one is a different matter. Necessary qualities of a Dental Therapist include:
- Good communication and interpersonal skills in order to interact with patients in a calm and reassuring manner
- Good motivational skills, able to advise patients on ways to manage and maintain their oral hygiene
- Excellent manual dexterity or hand-eye coordination to properly and precisely carry out dental procedures
- The ability to work under pressure, making the correct judgement in critical times
- Can concentrate for a long period of time, since a tooth extraction under anaesthesia can be up to an hour long
- Good attention to detail, noticing symptoms to identify the diseases
- Friendly, confident and professional manner collaborating with patients and other physicians
Working as a Dental Therapist, there are numerous opportunities for you to develop yourself and further your dentistry career. Working as a Dental Therapist, you can earn up to $447,665 per year, quite high for just a few years of extra training. Additionally, the job outlook for Dental Therapists is also much faster than the average growth, at about 11 percent from 2020 to 2030.
In the dental therapy profession, there are many ways to develop your interest and career. Given that you’ve had a background working as a Dental Therapist, with these experiences, you could easily progress and transfer to become a Dentist. The dental career is very fruitful and the demand for professional workers is very critical, so this can be a great chance for you to explore this medical career.