Dental Therapist

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You may be interested in a career as a Dental Therapist if you're the sort of person who:
 
  • Has an active interest in health care work and caring for others
  • Has the ability to communicate well with children
  • Possesses a high degree of manual dexterity and hand-eye coordination
  • Is able to apply precise attention to detail to your work
  • Possesses an artistic flair for form and design
  • Is able to use your time effectively
  • Works well in a team

Your role will primarily involve treating dental diseases in children and adolescents.

Actively engaged with a varied cross section of the community including schools, play groups and Parents and Citizens' Associations, you will also work to educate children and adults on the best ways to maintain good oral health.

 

A typical day

While the exact range of activities you can be involved in will vary depending on the regulations in your state, dental therapists will generally undertake the following responsibilities;
 
  • Assessing, treating dental disease in children and adolescents
  • Providing general dental treatment for children including cleaning and polishing teeth, filling cavities, X-ray services and extracting baby teeth under local anaesthetic
  • Referring more complex dental issues to a dentist
  • Educating and encouraging children, either in a clinic or classroom, to actively care for their oral health
  • Creating awareness in the community of the sorts of healthy food options that aid good oral health
 

The places you can work

Many dental therapists work in publicly-funded mobile, community or school dental clinics, often in regional, remote or rural areas; work is also available in some private practices or as the owner of your own practice, subject to working in a structured professional relationship with a dentist.

You may also find employment as an administrator of public health promotions, researcher into childhood oral diseases, sales and marketing manager in the dental industry, editor of industry publications and a consultant to other health care professionals and the public.



Obtaining the necessary qualifications

You will need to complete a three year Bachelor of Oral Health degree to practise as a dental therapist.

To gain entry to these highly competitive courses you may be required to sit selection tests and take part in an interview process.

To improve your chances of successful selection, completion of study in biology and chemistry at high school is advisable as is completion of Certificate III and Certificate IV in Dental Assisting.

For a full list of tertiary courses Australia wide, please consult the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency

Your professional association is the Australian Dental and Oral Health Therapists’ Assoc. Inc. (ADOHTA).

 

Regulatory requirements

To practice as a dental therapist, you will need to be registered with the Dental Board of Australia.

You are only allowed to practise your profession within a structured professional relationship with a dentist.

In line with all other dental practitioners, you will need to complete a minimum of 60 hours of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) activities over a three year period (if you register at any time through this period, you will have to complete a pro rata number of hours).

You will also be expected to comply with the codes and guidelines issued by the Dental Board of Australia which stipulate, among other requirements, that you may only practise the profession for which you are educated and trained under the structured supervision of a dentist.

For further information on job prospects, earning, vacancies and training, consult Job Outlook.

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