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Dental Nurses or Dental Therapists

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The role of the Dental Nurse or Dental Therapist on the Dental team is a unique one. The dental therapist performs duties which embrace some of what the Dentist does and some of what a Hygienist does. A Dental Therapist is trained to diagnose and treat oral diseases on school-aged children. {{more}}

Dental therapists can therefore do fillings, simple extractions, cleanings, preventive resin restorations, sealants, and seat deciduous stainless steel crowns. They can also carry out dental health education sessions, manage inventory and infection control.

To embark on this worthwhile endeavor you must therefore love children and be blessed with an abundance of patience. Most Dental Therapists in the Caribbean have been trained in Jamaica or Trinidad. But training may also be obtained in Guyana or as far as New Zealand where the field originated.

Qualifications may vary but basic entry requirements are the same: usually 6 or more O’levels including Chemistry, Biology and Physics. A mandatory manual dexterity test is also a part of the selection process and can determine whether you are accepted to the school or not. The course of study may take between 3-4 years of intensive training at the end of which you are awarded an associate degree or an undergraduate degree.

The scope of the field has also broadened and a Dental Therapist may specialize in specific areas in Dentistry for example radiology, endodontics or community health.

Dental Therapy is practised throughout the world and as such has acquired different names such as Dental Auxiliaries or auxiliaries with expanded duties. Whatever the name the field can be both quite challenging and rewarding

• Contributed by Donna Bascombe, Dental Nurse

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