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Dental Therapist

A Dental Therapists provides dental care to those living in remote areas of Canada, particularly in the north. Dental Therapists follow treatment prescribed by a supervisor dentist who visits the dental therapist regularly. The dentist examines patients and writes treatment plans which outline the specific procedures to be completed after the dentist has gone.

The purpose of a Dental Therapist is to provide primary oral health care to children and adult clients in accordance with established standards of the Canadian Dental Therapists Association and the philosophy and objectives of the Authority to ensure clients improve and maintain optimum oral health.

Dentists are the main referral source for Dental Therapist's clients (recall examinations). A physician, community health nurse or parent may also refer. In addition, the Dental Therapist will identify school age clients needing treatment through screening. Direct client care executed by the incumbent includes restoring teeth to proper form, function and esthetics, recognizing and managing dental/medical emergencies, post-extraction complications, and providing local anesthetics to manage pain to restore and maintain the health of the dental patient. Activities of the Dental Therapist include but are not limited to taking x-rays, providing fillings, performing extractions within a Dental Therapist's scope of practice, installing stainless steel crowns, providing fluoride treatment, sealants, suturing and performs recall examinations. The Therapist may also perform oral diagnosis and examination in emergency cases. When necessary the incumbent will administer local anesthesia for dental procedures.

When treatment is outside the Dental Therapy scope of practice the incumbent will refer the client to a dentist (i.e. abnormal oral or pathological conditions, etc). The Therapist may also cross-refer the patient to other health care providers (i.e. community health nurse or physician for antibiotic treatment).

Responsibilities of a Dental Therapist:

1. To provide direct and independent dental therapy services to clients of the Authority within a multi-disciplinary setting.

2. The Dental Therapist develops, coordinates and facilitates education/teaching based on the needs of the client, potential clients and other health care providers.

3. To advocate practice environments that have the organizational and resource allocations necessary for safe, competent and ethical clinical dental care.

4. To communicate with other members of the health care team (i.e. dentist) regarding the dental health care of clients to provide continuity of care and promote collaborative efforts directed toward quality client care.

5. To effectively operate and maintain equipment by troubleshooting and ensuring timely and appropriate maintenance and repairs on dental equipment.

Main Activities of a Dental Therapist:

 

  • The Dental Therapist screens and assesses patient's need for dental treatment.
  • Provide treatment to patients as per the treatment plan developed by a dentist.
  • Investigate and document the medical history of patients and inform at risk patients of the necessary considerations for dental treatment.
  • Examines, diagnose, develop a comprehensive recall treatment plan that addresses all the patient's needs, refers when appropriate and documents and evaluates care and modifies treatment as necessary to ensure a coordinated holistic approach which best meets the needs of the client.
  • Deliver prophylactic treatments to reduce the incidence of decay.
  • Assist clients in realizing and maintaining maximum oral /dental health.
  • Advocate the dignity and self-respect of clients.
  • The incumbent must be aware of the importance of confidentiality and be able to keep personal and medical information private and confidential at all times.
  • Advocate for clients with other agencies, family and health care professionals (i.e. teacher, parents, dentists, etc) so that needs relating to the treatment are met (i.e. orthodontic, antibiotic treatment, approval for treatment from the parent, etc).
  • Promote the autonomy of clients and help them to express their health needs and values to obtain appropriate information and services.
  • Safeguard the trust of clients that information learned in the context of a professional relationship is shared outside the health care team only with the client's permission or as legally required.
  • Apply and promote principles of equity and fairness to assist clients in receiving unbiased treatment and a share of health services and resources proportionate to their needs.
  • Act in a manner consistent with their professional responsibilities and standards of practice.
  • Use a holistic approach to facilitate individual learning in relation to dental health (i.e. self-care, health promotion, etc.) in the clinic, school and community.
  • Conducts active preventative health education programs in schools and health centers to promote and reduce the incidence of dental caries
  • Assess the client for physical needs, their knowledge of their dental health, disease process and learning needs.
  • Assess and evaluate the oral health of populations, gather and interpret epidemiological data, and plan, develop and initiate oral health programs to address the identified needs.
  • Research, develop, revise and evaluate on an ongoing basis, educational resources necessary to support clients, stakeholders (i.e. parents, teachers, community members, etc.) and other health care professionals.
  • Maintain a clinical environment (i.e. sterilize instruments and immediate surroundings) that is absent of micro-organisms that produce disease (i.e. pathogens).
  • Apply appropriate infection control measures.
  • Create and maintain client records.
  • Provide coaching and leadership to peers, students and other members of the health care team to develop skill levels necessary to achieve the standard of care.
  • Collaborate with dentists, physicians, community health nurses and other members of the health care team to advocate oral health care environments that are conducive to ethical practice and to the health and well-being of clients and others in the community.
  • Orientation of new employees to unit specific programs and mandate.
  • Giving local freezing.
  • Preparing teeth for and placing routine fillings in teeth.
  • Performing uncomplicated extractions of teeth.
  • Scaling (cleaning) teeth.
  • Taking and developing X-rays.
  • Conducting preventative dental health programs that include supervised brushing, topical fluoride application, and classroom teaching.