Dental therapist
Health & Care

Dental Therapists carry out routine dental treatment. Do you have good practical skills and an interest in helping people? If so a career as a dental therapist may suit you.

Work Activities

A Dental Therapist carries out treatment after a patient has been assessed by a fully qualified dentist. Sometimes, therapists are also qualified dental hygienists and combine the two roles. Many patients will be children, the elderly and people with special needs.

As a Dental Therapist, you may be expected

  • To assess the condition of the teeth and mouth
  • To monitor the progress of disease and decay
  • To teach patients about dental health
  • To apply fluoride treatment to teeth
  • To take dental images
  • To treat decay in milk teeth
  • To take impressions of teeth
  • To replace crowns and fillings in an emergency
  • To numb an area using simple anaesthetic techniques
  • To remove plaque
  • To keep records
  • To liaise with colleagues

With further training, dental therapist can perform other tasks, such as teeth whitening

It seems likely that there will be more dental therapists in the future and that dental therapists will perform a wider range of tasks than they do currently.

Personal Qualities and Skills

Key skills required

  • Good practical skills
  • An interest in helping people
  • Good communication skills to put patients at ease
  • Good time management skills

Pay And Opportunities

Typical employers

  • General Dental practices
  • Dental Hospitals
  • Community Dental Services
  • Defence Dental Services
  • Personal Dental Services

Dental therapists may go on to become practice managers, teachers or specialise in orthodontic dentistry.


Qualifications and training provided

You need to take a degree or diploma approved by the General Dental Council.

For entry to these degrees and diplomas, you will usually need 5 GCSEs A*-C/9-4 (including English and Science) and 2 or 3 A levels or equivalent. Biology A level is often required.

It is not unusual for someone to qualify as a dental nurse first, and then to decide that they would like to qualify as a Dental Hygienist or Dental Therapist, but it is likely that they will need additional A level (or equivalent) qualifications for entry on to the degree courses.

You will need to show evidence that you understand what the career entails, for example, through work or work experience.

You will need to undergo health screening, and be prepared to be inoculated against transferable diseases.

You will need to show evidence of good character, including a certificate from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS certificate), stating that there is no evidence that you have committed a crime that would make it inappropriate for you to work with children or vulnerable adults.

It may be helpful to speak or write Welsh if you wish to work in Wales.

Applicants for posts in the NHS should be aware of the values of the NHS eg commitment to quality care, compassion, improving lives, respect and dignity, working together for patients and everyone counts.

Applicants for posts in the NHS in England should be aware of the revamped NHS constitution.

After qualifying, you need to continue to update your knowledge through CPD approved by the General Dental Council.

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