The Dental Therapist?

What is a Dental Therapist?

So you’ve been in to see your Dentist for your routine check-up and they’ve identified some treatment you require to keep your mouth in top health.

As you can see our surgery is kept busy with a large volume of patients and your Dentist is concerned not to keep you waiting too long before the required treatment is done.


They know from their examination, exactly what the treatment will involve and that it will be straightforward to complete, so this is an ideal situation to take advantage of the skills of a Dental Therapist.

When and how were Therapists introduced?

The role of the Dental Therapist emerged after a change in legislation in July 2002 enabled suitably qualified, registered dental professionals to carry out certain items of dental treatment direct to patients, under prescription from a Dentist.

How are Dental Therapists trained?

There are several ways to qualify as a Therapist/Hygienist-Therapist.

  • Diploma in Dental Hygiene & Therapy – two year full time course
  • BSc in Oral Health Science – three year full time course
  • BSc (Hons) – four year course


The entry requirements for these courses vary but to have worked in a dental environment and obtained a dental nurse qualification first is the usual route.

What the training involves is determined by the General Dental Council (GDC), as is the Therapists’ ‘Scope of Practice’.

What does ‘Scope of Practice’ mean?

The GDC which regulates the dental profession, defines ‘Scope of Practice’ as ‘a way of describing what you are trained and competent to do. It describes the areas in which you have the knowledge, skills and experience to practise safely and effectively in the best interests of patients’.

What treatment can a Dental Therapist do?

Therapists are trained and competent to:

  • Re-cement crowns
  • Take impressions
  • Carry out direct restorations (fillings)
  • Perform pulpotomies, (removal of infected portions of the pulp tissue in a tooth)
  • Extract primary teeth

In many ways Therapy is an extension to the role of a Hygienist. For a full description of their roles follow this link.

Our Hygiene/Therapy Team.

At St Paul’s, both our Hygienists are also trained Therapists. We feel this gives us a great advantage because of the greater depth of knowledge and range of skills they have, as well as the benefits of continuity to patients who will most likely already know them in their role as Hygienist and will have confidence in them when they receive treatment from them as a Therapist.

What you should expect from us when you need dental treatment.

  • To be seen in a timely manner
  • It should be made clear after your dental examination what treatment is necessary. A treatment plan is created for you.
  • Your Dentist will discuss the treatment with you and decide with you who will carry out the treatment, either themselves or a Therapist.
  • An appointment for the treatment will be made by our reception staff at a convenient date and time.