So I’m A Dental Therapist….. Does that mean I talk to teeth?
So what is a Dental Therapist? I get asked this question a lot.
Often people believe a Dental Therapist is a new role. People will say ‘I’ve never heard of a Dental Therapist’. This sometimes goes hand in hand with them looking at me like I have two heads and I have grown a tail.
Dental Therapists have been around for a long time. Over a hundred years in fact. They were first introduced in the First World War, when there was a high treatment need in children but a shortage of dentists. Back then we were called ‘Dental Dressers’. Interesting choice in name again there. It appears the title has never quite had much time or thought put into it. Anyway these ladies were called upon and trained to work alongside dentists. They would clean, fill and extract the teeth of school children under the supervision of dentists.
Fast forward the years to 1921. It was New Zealand who really set the ball rolling with the role. They set out a model which was adopted by many other countries. Name change again… We were now called Dental Auxiliaries. By the 1950’s the UK had decided to take heed from the Kiwis and in 1959 a course was established at The New Cross Hospital in London. From here on in the role of the Dental Therapist was established.
Over the decades the role of a Dental Therapist has adapted and expanded. Dental Therapists can work in all sectors and can even open their own Dental Practice. We can provide a range of treatments including extended duties which are obtained through additional training courses- All of which I have.
Here are the range of procedures which a Dental Therapist can carry out:
• Intra and extra oral assessment (looking at all the different tissues both inside and outside your mouth)
• Record indices and monitor disease (indices are numbers that help determine what’s going on in your mouth)
• Periodontal treatment (treatment for gum disease)
• Apply materials to teeth, such as fluoride and fissure sealants
• Take Dental Radiographs (X-rays)
• Dental injections
• Provide dental health education on a one to one basis or in a group situation
• Fillings on adults and children
• Treat adults as well as children
• Removal of deciduous (baby) teeth
• Pulp therapy treatment on deciduous (baby) teeth
• Placement of preformed crowns on deciduous (baby) teeth
• Emergency temporary replacement of crowns and fillings
• Take impressions
So, what does this mean to you? Dentists can now delegate a greater proportion of their duties to other dental care professionals.
This may result in you visiting a therapist for a filling, rather than seeing your dentist.
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.
And that’s a round up. Enjoy your newfound knowledge…. your welcome.