An up-to-date focus on the scope of practice of one group of dental care professionals (DCPs), as described by the General Dental Council (GDC).
‘Scope of practice’ means what you are trained and competent to do. It describes the areas in which you have the knowledge, skills and experience to practise safely and effectively in the best interests of patients. The GDC's full document on the scope of practice of all dental registrants, published in 2013 and updated in 2017, can be found at https://www.gdc-uk.org/professionals/registers/reg-types.
As an orthodontic therapist, you can undertake the following if you are trained, competent and indemnified:
Clean and prepare tooth surfaces ready for orthodontic treatment
Identify, select, use and maintain appropriate instruments
Insert passive removable orthodontic appliances
Insert removable appliances activated or adjusted by a dentist
Remove fixed appliances, orthodontic adhesives and cement
Identify, select, prepare and place auxiliaries
Pour, cast and trim study models
Make a patient's orthodontic appliance safe in the absence of a dentist
Fit orthodontic headgear
Fit orthodontic facebows which have been adjusted by a dentist
Take occlusal records including orthognathic facebow readings
Take intra and extra-oral photographs
Place brackets and bands
Prepare, insert, adjust and remove archwires previously prescribed or, where necessary, activated by a dentist
Give advice on appliance care and oral health instruction
Fit tooth separators
Fit bonded retainers
Carry out index of orthodontic treatment need (iotn) screening either under the direction of a dentist or direct to patients
Make appropriate referrals to other healthcare professionals
Keep full, accurate and contemporaneous patient records
Give appropriate patient advice.
Additional skills which orthodontic therapists could develop include:
Applying fluoride varnish to the prescription of a dentist
Repairing the acrylic component part of orthodontic appliances
Measuring and recording plaque indices
Removing sutures after the wound has been checked by a dentist.
Orthodontic therapists do not:
Modify prescribed archwires
Give local analgesia
Remove sub-gingival deposits
Place temporary dressings
These tasks are reserved for dental hygienists, dental therapists or dentists.
Orthodontic therapists do not carry out laboratory work other than that listed above as that is reserved to dental technicians and clinical dental technicians (CDTs).