The Med Shed
What NHS career would suit you?

Dental Therapist


A Dental Therapist does some of the more straightforward work undertaken by a dentist. More dental surgeries have dental therapists working for them to do routine dental work. As a therapist, you will have independence without the full responsibility of running a practice.

Health education would be an important part of your role such as offering advice to patients on looking after their oral health. You will also carry out a range of procedures including scaling and polishing, applying materials to teeth such as fluoride and fissure sealants, taking dental x-rays, taking impressions of teeth, undertaking routine dental fixes of baby and permanent teeth, putting in crowns, extracting teeth.

Dental therapists can also develop additional skills including carrying out tooth whitening, removing sutures after a dentist has checked the wound. You will treat a range of patients with different treatment needs including those who are dentally anxious, have learning or physical disabilities, have high levels of untreated decay or are unable to access regular dental care in the general dental service.


You will need:


  • patience
  • excellent communication/interpersonal skills
  • empathy and a caring approach
  • be proficient, highly technical clinical skills
  • confident to work on your own and be able to put even the youngest of patients at ease
  • good time management and organisational skills
  • attention to health and safety procedure
  • to maintain confidentiality


You can get into this job through a university course or an apprenticeship.

To practise as a dental therapist, you must obtain a diploma or degree in dental therapy and be registered with the General Dental Council. You will need five GCSE subjects at grade 4-7 or A to C, plus two A-levels or a recognised qualification in dental nursing. You may also be required to have some experience of dental nursing before taking the course. The diploma in dental therapy course takes about 27 months, depending on the dental hospital at which you study. Some dental schools offer part time courses for dental hygienists wishing to qualify as dental therapists. Subjects studied include preventive dentistry, dental health education, dental pathology, simple restorative procedures for both deciduous and permanent teeth, the extraction of deciduous teeth (previously known as baby teeth) and radiography and pharmacology.

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