Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting 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.

A novel, integrated curriculum for dental hygiene-therapists and dentists

Key Points

  • Highlights the need for better understanding of dental hygiene-therapist roles and their importance in shared care.

  • Describes the methodology for a fully integrated undergraduate dental curriculum.

  • Demonstrates that a successful integrated curriculum requires skills and knowledge within the scope of each profession to be taught and assessed to the same standard.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1
Figure 2: Schematic representation of the structured integration within the Bachelor of Dental Surgery and BSc Dental Hygiene-Therapy programmes at Peninsula Dental School.


  1. 1

    Care Quality Commission. Shaping the future: CQC's strategy for 2016 to 2021. 2017. Available at (accessed December 2018).

  2. 2

    Harper P, Kleinman E, Gallagher J, Knight V . Cost-effective workforce planning: optimising the dental team skill-mix for England. J Enterpr Informat Management 2013; 26: 91–108.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3

    General Dental Council. Guidance on Direct Access. 2017. Available at (accessed December 2018).

  4. 4

    Csikar J I, Bradley S, Williams S A, Godson J H, Rowbotham J S . Dental therapy in the United Kingdom: part 4. Teamwork – is it working for dental therapists? Br Dent J 2009; 207: 529–536.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5

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

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6

    Adams T L . Inter-professional conflict and professionalization: dentistry and dental hygiene in Ontario. Soc Sci Med 2004; 58: 2243–2252.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7

    Morison S, Marley J, Machniewski S . Educating the dental team: exploring perceptions of roles and identities. Br Dent J 2011; 211: 477–483.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8

    Parsell G, Bligh J . Interprofessional learning. Br Dent J 1998; 74: 89–95.

    Google Scholar 

  9. 9

    Wenger E . Communities of practice and social learning systems. Organization 2000; 7: 225–246.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10

    Mann K V . Theoretical perspectives in medical education: past experience and future possibilities. Med Educ 2011; 45: 60–68.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. 11

    Bandura A . Social cognitive theory: An agentic perspective. Annu Rev Psychol 2001; 52: 1–26.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. 12

    Merriam S B, Caffarella R S, Baumgartner L M . Learning in adulthood: A comprehensive guide. Adult Educ Quart 2007; 58: 81–82.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. 13

    Rogers G D, Thistlethwaite J E, Anderson E S et al. International consensus statement on the assessment of interprofessional learning outcomes. Med Teach 2017; 39: 347–359.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. 14

    Health Education England. Advancing Dental Care: Education and Training Review: Final Report. 2018. Available at (accessed December 2018).

  15. 15

    Public Health England. Facing the Facts, Shaping the Future: A draft health and care workforce strategy for England to 2027. 2017. Available at (accessed December 2018).

  16. 16

    McHarg J, Kay E J . The anatomy of a new dental curriculum. Br Dent J 2008; 204: 635–638.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. 17

    Ali K, Zahra D, McColl E, Salih V, Tredwin C . Impact of early clinical exposure on the learning experience of undergraduate dental students. Eur J Dent Educ 2017; 22: e75–e80.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. 18

    Ali K, Tredwin C, Kay E, Slade A . Stakeholders' Perceptions About a Newly Established Dental School with a Problem-Based, Student-Led, Patient-Centred Curriculum: A Qualitative Study. J Dent Educ 2016; 80: 291–300.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  19. 19

    McHarg J, Kay E J . Designing a dental curriculum for the twenty-first century. Br Dent J 2009; 207: 493–497.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. 20

    Thistlethwaite J, Nisbet G . Interprofessional education: what's the point and where we're at.... Clin Teach 2007; 4: 67–72.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. 21

    Huline-Dickens S, Heffernan E, Bradley P, Coombes L . Teaching and learning the mental state exam in an integrated medical school. Part II: Student performance. Psychiatr Bull 2014; 38: 243–248.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. 22

    Downing S M, Tekian A, Yudkowsky R . Procedures for establishing defensible absolute passing scores on performance examinations in health professions education. Teach Learn Med 2006; 18: 50–57.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. 23

    Ali K, Zahra D, Tredwin C, Mcilwaine C, Jones G . Use of Progress Testing in a UK Dental Therapy and Hygiene Educational Program. J Dent Educ 2018; 82: 130–136.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. 24

    Zahra, D., Belfield, L ., Bennett., J, Zaric, S ., and Mcilwaine, C . (2018) The Benefits of Integrating Dental and Dental Therapy and Hygiene Students in Undergraduate Curricula. J Dent Ed.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. 25

    Mattick K, Dennis I, Bradley P, Bligh J . Content specificity: is it the full story? Statistical modelling of a clinical skills examination. Med Educ 2008; 42: 589–99.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. 26

    Coleman, A. J., Finn, G. M., Nattress, B. R . Interprofessional education in dentistry. Br Dent J 2018; 225: 257.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references


Our sincerest thanks go to the entire education team at Peninsula Dental School, without whose support and input our vision of an integrated BDHT-BDS curriculum would have remained just that. We wish to acknowledge the sheer hard work that has gone into developing the original BDS programme, as on the foundations of its success we built our new BDHT programme. Since the commencement of the BDHT programme we must acknowledge: Christopher Tredwin as head of school who has supported our vision and challenge to the conventional curriculum and Ewen McColl as clinical lead and deputy head of school; Sally Hanks for designing the professionalism modules and being instrumental in IPE in the BDHT/BDS final years; Cathy Coelho for leading EBL and BDHT audit, as well as monitoring and evaluating remediation of BDHT students; Jon Bennett for guidance in the biomedical science content and design and delivery of the year one BDHT-BDS life Sciences; Jane Collingwood for being an integral part of teaching and curriculum design within BDHT; Ruth Potterton for designing and delivering EBL; Joanne Elmes for delivering BDHT curriculum; Matthew Jerreat for supporting ISCE and exit cases; Tim O'Brien for supporting BDHT specialist visits; the 'Well Connected' team for their integral role in the community engagement modules; clinical supervisors and external speakers for expert content and support; Nicky Kilpatrick for her paediatric teaching advice and review of the manuscript; Malcolm Bruce and Natalie Sobey for designing and directing SDLE; and finally to all of our administrative team who have worked tirelessly to enable the success of the BDHT programme.

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to C. McIlwaine.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

McIlwaine, C., Brookes, Z., Zahra, D. et al. A novel, integrated curriculum for dental hygiene-therapists and dentists. Br Dent J 226, 67–72 (2019).

Download citation

Further reading


Quick links