Dental therapist

Your work as a dental therapist will be directed by a dentist unless you have had extra training and experience. 

Working life

More dentists are adding dental therapists to the practice team to handle much of the routine dental work. Working as a therapist in a dental practice gives you independence without the full responsibility of running a practice. Many dental therapists provide treatment in a range of places in the community, such as schools and care homes.

Dental therapists are increasingly important members of the dental team and are sometimes known as oral health practitioners.

Health education is an important part of the role and the dental therapist is responsible for carrying out a range of procedures, including:

Provided they have completed appropriate training, dental therapists can perform extended duties such as:

The dental therapist may treat a wide range of patients who have high treatment needs, such as those who:

Entry requirements, skills and interests

To practise as a dental therapist, you must obtain a diploma or degree in dental therapy and be registered on the General Dental Council’s (CDG) roll of dental therapists.

To get on the course, you will need five GCSE subjects at grade 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.

Dental therapists carry out a range of clinical tasks and will often spend valuable time encouraging anxious patients to accept dental treatment. This requires patience, and excellent communication and interpersonal skills. An empathetic and caring approach is very important, in addition to proficient, highly technical clinical skills. You will need to be confident to work on your own and be able to put even the youngest of patients at ease. Much of your work is likely to be with children, older people and those with special needs.

Good time management and organisational skills are essential, along with attention to health and safety procedures. At all times, a dental therapist needs to be mindful of the need for patient confidentiality.

Training and development 

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:

Use our course finder to search for courses in dental therapy leading to registration with the GDC.

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