What is a Dental Therapist?
The APEX Dental Therapist division includes Dental Therapists, Oral Health Therapists and Dental Assistants.
Ever wondered what we are trained to do? Many of our older members probably remember “the horror (dental) house”; however, we would like to reassure you that dental therapy has moved on since those days.
Dental therapy is a subset of the practice of dentistry which is defined 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”.
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.
Like most clinical practice, dental therapy involves obtaining medical histories plus examination of oral tissues, diagnosis of dental caries and recognition of abnormalities. We prepare oral care plans and are actively involved in oral health education and promotion, and working to prevent dental decay (cleaning teeth, removing deposits in association with gingivitis, fissure sealants, and fluoride applications). The more technical aspects of our work include:
- taking of impressions for, constructing and fitting mouthguards:
- taking and interpreting periapical and bitewing XRays:
- administration of local anaesthetic using dentoalveolar infiltration, inferior dental nerve block and topical local anaesthetic techniques:
- preparation of cavities, pulp capping and restoration of primary and permanent teeth using direct placement of appropriate dental materials:
- In primary teeth we perform pulpotomies, extractions and prepare and placing stainless steel crowns.
Dental therapy practice includes teaching, research and management given that such roles influence clinical practice and public safety.
We are “small in number”, but our role is none the less important and we fully appreciate the support we receive from APEX in our professional lives.