Scope practice and duties of Dental Therapists

Scope practice and duties of Dental Therapists

The scope of practice for dental therapists is set out in the documented “Detailed Scope of Practice for Dental Therapy Practice” produced and published from time to time by the Dental Council.

Dental therapy practice is a subset of the practice of dentistry, and is commensurate with a dental therapist’s approved education, training and competence.

Dental therapists provide oral health assessment, treatment, management and prevention services for children and adolescents up to age 18. Disease prevention and oral health promotion and maintenance are core activities.

Dental therapists and dentists have a consultative working relationship, which is documented in an agreement between the parties.

Detailed scope of practice for dental therapy practice

The Dental Council defines the practice of dentistry as the maintenance of health through the assessment, diagnosis, management, treatment and prevention of any disease, disorder or condition of the orofacial complex and associated structures.

Dental therapy practice is a subset of the practice of dentistry, and is commensurate with a dental therapist’s approved education, training and competence.

Dental therapists and dentists have a consultative working relationship, which is documented in an agreement between the parties.

In collaboration with dentists and other health care professionals, and in partnership with individuals, whãnau and communities, dental therapists provide oral health assessment, treatment, management and prevention services for children and adolescents up to age 18. Disease prevention and oral health promotion and maintenance are core activities.

Dental therapy practice involves:

  • obtaining medical histories and consulting with other health practitioners as appropriate
  • examination of oral tissues, diagnosis of dental caries and recognition of abnormalities
  • preparation of an oral care plan
  • informed consent procedures
  • administration of local anaesthetic using dentoalveolar infiltration, inferior dental nerve block and topical local anaesthetic techniques
  • preparation of cavities and restoration of primary and permanent teeth using direct placement of appropriate dental materials
  • extraction of primary teeth
  • pulp capping in primary and permanent teeth
  • preventive dentistry including cleaning, polishing and scaling (to remove deposits in association with gingivitis), fissure sealants, and fluoride applications
  • oral health education and promotion
  • taking of impressions for, constructing and fitting mouthguards
  • referral as necessary to the appropriate practitioner/agency
  • performing pulpotomies on primary teeth.
  • taking and interpreting periapical and bitewing radiographs
  • preparing teeth for, and placing stainless steel crowns on primary teeth.

Dental therapy practice includes teaching, research and management given that such roles influence clinical practice and public safety.

Being a dental hygienist or a dental therapist

What do dental hygienists and dental therapists do?

Dental hygienists and dental therapists are important members of the dental team. They carry out courses of treatments recommended by the dentist who has examined the patient.

The Dental Hygienist

  • perform intra and extra oral assessment
  • record indices, recognise and monitor disease
  • perform scaling and polishing
  • monitor periodontal disease by using current indices
  • monitor plaque scores and provide oral hygiene advice
  • develop a home care plan for individual patients to maintain oral health
  • provide a prophylaxis which will include finishing and polishing restorations
  • perform non-surgical periodontal therapy including supra and sub gingival scaling, comprehensive root surface ebridement which may involve the use of local infiltration analgesia together with the placing of antimicrobial agents when necessary
  • apply materials to teeth such as fluoride and fissure sealants
  • give specific preventative advice including: nutritional guidance, smoking cessation etc
  • take dental radiographs
  • provide dental health education on a one-to-one basis or in a group situation
  • replace crowns dislodged during treatment with a temporary cement
  • take impressions
  • administer local anaesthetic.

The Dental Therapist

In addition to the duties of a dental hygienist, a qualified dental therapist who has completed the appropriate training can also perform:

  • routine restorations in both deciduous and permanent teeth on adults and children
  • pulp therapy treatment of deciduous teeth
  • placement of pre-formed crowns on deciduous teeth
  • extractions of deciduous teeth
  • treatments using all materials except pre-cast or pinned placement

source: Detailed Scope of Practice for Dental Therapy Practice” produced and published from time to time by the Dental Council

2 Comments

  1. Okeke kosiso April 3, 2018

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