Dental therapists carry out routine treatments prescribed by a dentist.
Salary range: £24,214 to £37,267
How to become a dental therapist
You can get into this job through:
- a university course
- an apprenticeship
You’ll need a degree or diploma in dental therapy approved by the General Dental Council.
You’ll also need relevant work experience shadowing a dental therapist or hygienist.
Some dental schools offer part-time courses for qualified dental hygienists and dental nurses wishing to become dental therapists.
You’ll usually need:
- 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English, maths and science
- 2 or 3 A levels, or equivalent, including biology for a degree
- equivalent entry requirements
- student finance for fees and living costs
- university courses and entry requirements
You could work towards this role by starting with an advanced apprenticeship as a dental nurse.
After a few years’ experience you could study a degree or diploma whilst working.
You’ll usually need:
- 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship
- you’ll need to register with the General Dental Council
As well as a Student Loan, you may be able to get support through the NHS Learning Support Fund, that can help with costs for travel, childcare and hardship.
Professional and industry bodies
You could join the British Association of Dental Hygiene and Therapy to get access to professional development training.
You can find out more about becoming a dental therapist from Health Careers.
What it takes
Skills and knowledge
- customer service skills
- knowledge of medicine and dentistry
- sensitivity and understanding
- to be thorough and pay attention to detail
- the ability to work well with others
- patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
- to enjoy working with other people
- thinking and reasoning skills
- to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
What you’ll do
Your day-to-day duties might include:
- removing plaque and other tooth coatings
- applying antibacterial and de-sensitising agents
- polishing teeth and tooth whitening
- applying sealants and fluorides to teeth to help prevent decay
- taking x-rays
- replacing temporary fillings and crowns
- carrying out simple fillings
- extracting deciduous (milk) teeth
- giving certain types of local anaesthetic
You could work at a dental practice or in an NHS or private hospital.
You may need to wear protective clothing.
Career path and progression
With experience, you could progress to dental practice manager. Some dental therapists set up their own practice and employ dentists to work with them.
You could also move into a research post or teaching, take further training or go into orthodontic therapy.