Dental therapist

oral health practitioner
Healthcare
Care

Career outlook for

Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary

Currently employed in Scotland

Six year jobs forecast

The information is supplied by LMI For All

What's it like?

You would carry out treatments to make people’s teeth healthier and look better such as doing simple fillings, polishing teeth and taking x-rays.

You’d need to be friendly and sympathetic to help anxious patients feel more relaxed about having the treatment.

You could work in dental practices, hospitals or the community.

You’d work as part of a team and carry out the clinical treatments prescribed by a dentist.

You would:

  • Remove plaque and other tooth coatings, such as calculus
  • Apply antibacterial and de-sensitising agents
  • Polish teeth
  • Do tooth whitening
  • Apply sealants and fluorides to teeth to help prevent decay
  • Take x-rays
  • Replace temporary fillings and crowns
  • Carry out simple fillings
  • Extract deciduous (milk) teeth
  • Give certain types of local anaesthetic, unsupervised

You would use a range of instruments, and sometimes have the help of a dental nurse.

You’d also do health promotion and education activities with children and adults. You’d teach and motivate individuals and groups to look after their teeth and gums.

You could work for the National Health Service (NHS) or in the private sector. You can see more about this role in the National Health Service on the Dental hygienist-therapist page on the NHSScotland Careers website.

Working conditions

Hours

You would usually work around 37.5 hours a week between 9am and 5pm. Part-time work is also possible.

Environment

You would work mainly in dental surgeries and clinics, which are clean and well lit. When carrying out treatments, you would usually wear a coat or tunic, surgical gloves, eye protection and a mask to reduce the risk of cross infection.​

Travel

If you are working in the Community Dental Service (CDS) or carrying out health promotion work, you may need to travel between schools, community centres and clinics.

UK employment status

Full-time

Part-time

Self employed

Here are some of the skills that people in this job would be most likely to have:

  • Communicating with people
  • Explaining things
  • Working as part of a team
  • Working on your own
  • Working with your hands
  • Paying attention to detail

Build your skills

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.

Qualifications

You would do a course approved by the General Dental Council (GDC) such as the BSc in Oral Health Science (SCQF level 10). This is a three-year degree course and is available at Dundee University, Glasgow Caledonian and the University of the Highlands and Islands.

To enter a Oral Health Science or dentistry degree (SCQF level 9/10) requires National 5 qualifications and a minimum of four Highers at B or above.

Edinburgh University offers the BSc Hons Oral Health Sciences. For entry you require four highers at BBBB including Biology.

Glasgow Dental School and Hospital offers a Diploma in Dental Hygiene and Dental Therapy. This course is full time and is run over 27 months. You require three highers at C or above plus five subjects at National 5.

Useful subjects

Many courses require:

  • English
  • Maths or physics
  • At least one science subject, in particular biology, human biology and chemistry. 

You will also need

To be approved for membership of the Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) Scheme run by Disclosure Scotland.

Helpful to have

Qualifications that show understanding of health, wellbeing and care such as:

  • Skills for Work Health Sector (SCQF level 4/5)
  • Health and Social Care (SCQF level 6)
  • SQA Wellbeing Award (SCQF levels 3-5)

It may be of an advantage to have experience as a dental nurse.