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A dental therapist is a healthcare professional who is trained to practice dentistry. That training and practice may include treating the teeth of children and adults, performing local anaesthesia, restorations, cleaning, extractions and the taking of radiographs. Local dental regulations determine the duties therapists are able to perform. Typically, therapists under the prescription of a dentist are licensed to examine children's teth, administer restricted techniques of local anesthesia, take radiographs, provide sealants, scaling and cleaning in children. Also restoring primary teeth and vital pulp treatments such as pulpotomies. 
Local dental regulations are constantly changing to include extended duties and exemptions for dental therapists.
By country or state
In the UK a dental therapist working from a prescribed treatment plan can treat children and adults, with direct restorations, periodontal and oral hygiene treatment and extraction of deciduous teeth. They can also place pre-formed stainless steel crowns on deciduous teeth. They can apply medicaments listed by the General Dental Council and administer local anaesthetic by infiltration, intrapapillary, intraligamentary and inferior block techniques. Dental therapists can work independently and outwith the supervision of a dentist. Training is usually by dual diploma in dental hygiene and dental therapy but a few dental schools offer full degree training in combined hygiene/therapy. Therapists trained in the UK can work in the NHS and privately or work in the hospital and community service.
In the United States certain states (Alaska and Minnesota) allow dental therapists to practice basic dental procedures under the supervision of a dentist. Also the duties that dental therapists allowed to practice in Alaska are very different than those in Minnesota. Alaskan dental therapists are taught in Washington state and Bethel Alaska. They can only practice on tribal rural areas. An October 2010 evaluation of the Alaska dental therapists found that they provide safe, effective and competent care.
In Australia and New Zealand, therapists mainly work for state government (public clinics) and school dental programs, treating children's teeth but are increasingly becoming employed in the private sector. In Australia, the scope of practice varied in each state and was set by a statewide board. However, all state boards have joined a nationwide Dental Board of Australia. Due to this, the new scope of practice for therapists in Australia has been set so that a therapist may practice any procedure in which they have been formally trained in and are competent in.
In Sri Lanka a dental therapy program was developed by New Zealand trained dental therapists as a result of the Colombo Plan. Dental therapists are allowed to work in school based clinics and maintain the dental hygiene in young Sri Lankans.
- http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/oralhealth/index.html (accessed August 25, 2010)
- Nash DA, Nagel RJ, “A Brief History and Current Status of a Dental Therapy Initiative in the United States,” J Dent Ed 69(8):857-859, 2005.
- http://www.law.duke.edu/shell/cite.pl?24+Alaska+L.+Rev.+105 (accessed August 25, 2010)
- Bolin KA, “Assessment of Treatment Provided by Dental Health Aide Therapists in Alaska - A Pilot Study,” J Am Dent Assoc 139(11):1530-1535,2008.
- University of Washington DENTEX program
- UK NHS dental therapist careers
- Canadian Dental Therapists Association
- Dental therapist description, Australian Dental Association
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