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Dental therapist

Dental therapists carry out routine treatments prescribed by a dentist.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £22,000 to £41,500 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 37.5 per week

1. Entry requirements

You’ll need:

Some dental therapy courses are subsidised by the NHS. Check with course providers to see if their course is eligible for NHS funding. 

Health Careers has more information about becoming a dental therapist. 

2. Skills required

You’ll need:

  • a steady hand and good practical skills
  • the ability to concentrate for long periods of time
  • the ability to put anxious patients at ease
  • the ability to work independently without supervision

3. What you'll do

You’ll work in general dental practice, hospitals, the Community Dental Service (CDS) or cosmetic dentistry.

Your day-to-day duties might include:

  • removing plaque and other tooth coatings
  • applying antibacterial and de-sensitising agents
  • polishing teeth and tooth whitening
  • applying sealants and fluorides to teeth to help prevent decay
  • taking x-rays
  • replacing temporary fillings and crowns
  • carrying out simple fillings
  • extracting deciduous (milk) teeth
  • giving certain types of local anaesthetic
You’ll use a range of instruments, and sometimes have the help of a dental nurse.

Your work may also involve health promotion and education to children and adults. This could include teaching and motivating people to maintain good oral hygiene and dental care.

4. Salary

Starter: £22,000 to £28,500

Experienced: £26,250 and £35,250

Highly Experienced: £41,500

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You’ll usually work 37.5 hours a week, from 9am to 5pm. If you’re working in the CDS or carrying out health promotion work, you may need to travel between schools, community centres and clinics.

You’ll work mainly in dental surgeries, clinics and hospitals. 

When carrying out treatments, you’ll usually wear a coat or tunic, surgical gloves, eye protection and a mask to reduce the risk of infection.

6. Career path and progression

With experience, you could progress to dental practice manager. Some dental therapists set up their own practice and employ dentists to work with them.

You could also move into a research post or teaching, take further training or go into orthodontic therapy.

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Last updated: 05 May 2017

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