22 Nov The difference between a Dental Therapist, Dental Hygienist and Oral Health Therapist.
What’s the difference between a Dental Therapist, Dental Hygienist and Oral Health Therapist?
A Dental Therapist is a registered primary healthcare professional who examines and treats the teeth of pre-school, primary and secondary school children, under the supervision of a dentist either in private and/or public clinics.
I guess you could say that they are a “mini-dentist”. There are some restrictions with the different locations of fillings that Dental Therapists can perform and they are unable to perform a full root canal on a baby tooth.
Dental Therapists educate and motivate children to maintain good oral health, and provide routine dental treatment for children including
- dental examinations,
- cleaning and polishing teeth, filling cavities,
- extracting deciduous (baby) teeth under local anaesthetic,
- taking X-rays of teeth and jaws
- applying pit and fissure sealants,
- fluoride therapy and
- taking impressions for mouth guard construction.
A Dental Hygienist is also a registered primary healthcare professional who provides highly skilled preventive services on all age groups without cutting or removing teeth.
As a clinician they work in collaboration with a dentist to determine therapeutic treatment for each individual patient, but work independently in delivering their dental services. They work within a team environment to assure best practice in providing safe and appropriate dental healthcare.
Dental hygienists can also provide treatment for patients within the orthodontic field thereby:
- take impressions for orthodontic purposes,
- remove brackets, bands, arch wires, modules, ligature wire, power chain and thread, coil springs, elastic, separating elastics,
- place and fix arch wires,
- select and prepare bands for cementation,
- re-cement loose bands,
- remove orthodontic cement and materials after band and bracket removal.
Oral Health Therapists are also registered oral health practitioners who provide primary oral health care for children and adults, and have qualifications in both dental therapy and dental hygiene. Therefore they can perform any of the procedures listed above.
So there is much more to being a Dental Therapist, Dental Hygienist or Oral Health Therapist than meets the eye and now you know who else is working on your teeth!