Who is an Oral Health Therapist?
An oral health therapist (OHT) is a dental clinician who is trained to be both a dental therapist and a dental hygienist with a primary focus on health promotion and disease prevention. As a dental therapist, an OHT looks after children and their dental needs. As a hygienist, an OHT looks after the maintenance of everyone’s teeth. The training to become an OHT is at a university level, thus completion of high school at a high standard is compulsory with some universities requiring pre-requisite subjects.
What can an Oral Health Therapist do?
The big rule is that a graduated OHT is capable of performing procedures that they have been formally trained for. Since each university offers different levels of training, clinicians are able of performing different tasks from one and another.
A basic OHT is trained to do:
• Education and motivation of dental hygiene to children and the community
• Dental examinations on patients of all ages and diagnosis of a variety of dental conditions
• Extensive cleaning of the teeth and the gums
• Filling teeth for children and patients to a certain age that they are trained for (usually 25)
• Administration of local anesthetic
• Extracting deciduous (baby) teeth
• Taking radiographs (x-rays) – certain types depending on their training
• Preventative procedures eg. fissure sealants, fluoride applications, oral hygiene instruction
• Taking impressions of the teeth eg. for mouth guards
• Education about health foods
• Liaise with other health care professionals
Why is an Oral Health Therapist important?
By practicing hand in hand with the dentist, an OHT allows the clinic to run efficiently thus, providing more personalised care for each individual patient. An OHT spends extensive amounts time training to provide care for kids regardless of the temper tantrums thrown their way. Through the years, oral health therapists have become an essential part of the dental team.