Dental Therapist v Dentist

Just asking out of curiosity, I was discussing the possibility of needing a tooth filled with my NHS dental practice. I was told that as I have a check-up due later this month the Dentist will assess the need for a filling to be carried out and if it is necessary I will be referred to a 'Dental Therapist' to carry out the procedure.

I wonder what the difference is between a Dentist and a Therapist? I can only assume that a Therapist is used for 'lower level' treatments but what defines who does what and how to qualifications differ between a Therapist and a Dentist?



  • Toothsmith
    Toothsmith Posts: 10,067
    Name Dropper First Post First Anniversary
    edited 8 December 2022 at 12:12PM
    Dental therapists are very similar to dental hygienists. In fact, 'hygienists' aren't trained any more, everyone wanting to do that role are trained as 'therapist' now. 

    They aren't dentists in that they can't perform their own treatment plans. They work under the direction of a dentist. I'm not well versed in their exact scope of practice, but they can do anything a hygienist does, plus small-medium fillings and extractions of baby teeth. Working to the prescription of a dentist. 

    How to find a dentist.
    1. Get recommendations from friends/family/neighbours/etc.
    2. Once you have a short-list, VISIT the practices - dont just phone. Go on the pretext of getting a Practice Leaflet.
    3. Assess the helpfulness of the staff and the level of the facilities.
    4. Only book initial appointment when you find a place you are happy with.
  • brook2jack2
    brook2jack2 Posts: 467
    First Anniversary First Post Name Dropper
    edited 10 December 2022 at 1:50PM
    Actually , if trained appropriately therapists can treatment plan and very soon will be able to open their own courses of treatment on the NHS. 
    They can do fillings, x rays , hygiene and baby tooth extractions and if appropriately trained simple treatment plans . 
    Therapists do a three year degree course in oral health science or similar, dentists do a five year course followed by a years foundation training plus any speciality training. 
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