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What is the Difference Between an Oral Health Therapist and a Dentist?

Image by Dentist and CoIf you are reading this, then you are probably wondering if there is a difference between a dentist and that of an oral therapist (dental hygienist). What exactly is a dental therapist? These are all perfectly good questions especially for the uninitiated many of whom tend to think that both professions are one and the same.


So is a dental hygienist a dentist? It might seem that way when you will find both at most reputable dental clinics in Australia. However, the scope of practice between the two professions could not be any different, particularly when it comes to background and qualifications. Such differences are something that you will have to consider if only to ensure you obtain the right dental care.


Scope of practice of an oral therapist

Now to better appreciate the difference between a dentist and an oral therapist, it would be best to take a good look at what the latter does. A dental hygienist is a licensed health care professional who is primarily concerned with treating and examining the teeth of children (pre-school, primary and secondary school age).


You can find an oral therapist working in both public and private dental clinics under the guidance of qualified dentists. Job responsibilities revolve around motivating and educating people to take better care of their teeth. They also offer some routine dental treatments that include:

  • Teeth examinations
  • Tooth cleaning/polishing
  • Tooth filling
  • Baby teeth extraction
  • Teeth and jaw x-ray
  • Fluoride therapy
  • Dental impressions for fabricating mouthguards and dental veneers


Oral health therapist vs dentist

So is a dental hygienist a dentist? As you have seen from their scope of practice, a dental therapist takes on similar tasks as a regular dentist but with a particular focus on preventive dental services for young age groups. Also, note that they do not do anything that involves removing or cutting into teeth (except baby teeth). Dentists on the other hand, does just about everything deemed necessary to treat dental problems that adversely affect oral health and function.


Looking to get started with the services of an oral health therapist?

You can think of an oral therapist as a mini dentist or a clinician; they collaborate with dentists to come up with a therapeutic dental treatment for their patients. Not to be confused with assistants, dental hygienists go about their work independently in teams so as to ensure that they provide safe and appropriate dental care for patients.



Learn more about what our oral health therapists can do for you! Call “Dentist and Co” today on 02 9810 3044 and arrange a consultation with our team of dental hygienists.

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