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Dental Therapist
Dental therapists offer basic dental services and preventative dentistry. Dental therapy as an occupation was introduced in the nineteen seventies to cater for the growing number of people who rely on the public health service for their dental care.

Dental therapists carry out dental examinations; identifying and diagnosing serious conditions and referring these to dentists and orthodontists. Where necessary they do simple fillings and extractions and will carry out preventative measures against the more common oral diseases.

Dental therapists clean, scale, floss and polish patients' teeth, while educating them about oral health and hygiene. They will take X-rays and should more intricate dental work or complicated bridgework be required, they will refer patients to qualified practitioners.

Dental therapists work mainly in clinics and may also visit schools which could require frequent travelling. They can work independently or in a team with oral hygienists and dentists and refer complicated procedures for further management to dentists. However, they may not practise independently unless they have practised for at least one year under the control and supervision of a dentist or another senior dental therapist.

Satisfying Aspects
- working with people in a semi-medical field
- being able to help restore damaged teeth
- being able to cure diseases of the mouth

Demanding aspects
- occasionally extensive travel is required
- if a patient does not respond to injections, the work could be very stressful

A dental therapist should:
- have an interest in and an aptitude for science;
- have good judgement and diagnostic skills;
- be able to inspire confidence and trust;
- be able to concentrate well;
- have manual dexterity;
- be able to perform precise and detailed work;
- have three-dimensional abilities (to judge space and shape);
- have good eyesight and visual memory.

School Subjects
National Senior Certificate with matric exemption.

Compulsory Subjects: Mathematics, Physical Sciences
Recommended Subjects: Life Sciences

Degree: BDental Therapy (BDent Ther) - UL, Wits

Dental therapists have to register with the Health Professions Council of South Africa in order to practise and must work under the supervision of dentists or senior dental therapists for at least one year before practising.

- Public hospitals
- Public clinics
- Private dental clinics
- Self-employment, with enough experience and capital, can set up own practice

Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA)
P O Box 205
Pretoria, 0001
Tel: (012) 338 9300
Fax: (012) 328 5120

South African Dental Association (SADANET)
Private Bag 1
Houghton, 2041
Tel: (011)484-5288 Fax: (011) 642-5718