Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

The dental therapist's role in a 'shared care' approach to optimise clinical outcomes

Abstract

Introduction Dental therapists have a key role to play in the provision of dentistry in the UK. The Dental Workforce Advisory Group has reported this is relevant in multiple areas, including prevention and care in young children, and to support dentists in providing advanced and routine treatment for complex adult patients within the wider collaborative dental team. There remain diverse and multiple barriers and challenges to utilising the optimal scope of the dental therapist in general practice. In 2013, the General Dental Council introduced direct access (DA) legislation in the UK. By utilising the potential of dental therapists, some of the above challenges could be overcome and the DA approach optimised.

Aims The purpose of this article through presenting clinical cases is to demonstrate the full scope of practice of the dental therapist and highlight how clinical outcomes can be optimised for patients when a 'shared care' approach is followed.

Conclusions Notwithstanding the complexities of the financial implications practice owners face, through knowledge and understanding of the role and scope of the dental therapist within the wider dental team, optimal treatment of dental patients in the UK can be encouraged.

Key points

  • Demonstrates full scope of practice of dental therapists.

  • Presents examples of dental therapy student clinical cases.

  • Demonstrates clinical cases of 'shared care' team approach between dental therapist and dental undergraduates.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

$32.00

All prices are NET prices.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5

References

  1. Gibbons D, Corrigan M, Newton J. The working practices and job satisfaction of dental therapists: findings of a national survey. Br Dent J 2000; 189: 435-438.

  2. Stockley J. Being a dental therapist. Vital 2009; 6: 22-23.

  3. Gallagher J, Wright D. General dental practitioners' knowledge of and attitudes towards the employment of dental therapists in general practice. Br Dent J 2003; 194: 37-41.

  4. Godson J, Williams S, Csikar J, Bradley S, Rowbotham J. Dental therapy in the United Kingdom: part 2. A survey of reported working practices. Br Dent J 2009; 207: 417-423.

  5. Harper P, Kleinman E, Gallagher J, Knight V. Cost-effective workforce planning: optimising the dental team skill-mix for England. J Enterprise Inf Manage 2013; 26: 91-108.

  6. Dental Workforce Advisory Group for England. The Future Oral and Dental Workforce for England: Liberating human resources to serve the population across the life-course. 2019. Available at https://www.hee.nhs.uk/sites/default/files/documents/FDWF%20Report%20-%207th%20March%202019.pdf (accessed June 2020).

  7. Health Education England. Advancing Dental Care: Education and Training Review Final report. 2018. Available online at https://www.hee.nhs.uk/sites/default/files/documents/Advancing%20Dental%20Care%20Final%20Report%20.pdf (accessed June 2020).

  8. General Dental Council. Scope of Practice Review: Final report. 2020. Available online at https://www.gdc-uk.org/about-us/what-we-do/research/research/detail/fitness-to-practise/scope-of-practice-review (accessed June 2020).

  9. General Dental Council. Scope of Practice. London: GDC, 2013.

  10. Evans C, Chestnutt I G, Chadwick B L. The potential for delegation of clinical care in general dental practice. Br Dent J 2007; 203: 695-699.

  11. Turner S, Tripathee S, MacGillivray S. Direct access to DCPs: what are the potential risks and benefits? Br Dent J 2013; 215: 577-582.

  12. Wanyonyi K, Radford D, Gallagher J. Dental skill mix: a cross-sectional analysis of delegation practices between dental and dental hygiene-therapy students involved in team training in the South of England. Hum Resour Health 2014; 12: 65-73.

  13. Gallagher J, Wilson N. The future dental workforce? Br Dent J 2009; 206: 195-199.

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Sally Hanks.

Ethics declarations

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Sadura, Z., Hanks, S., Tredwin, C. et al. The dental therapist's role in a 'shared care' approach to optimise clinical outcomes. Br Dent J 231, 104–108 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41415-021-3233-3

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41415-021-3233-3

This article is cited by

Search

Quick links