How can dentists utilise a hygiene therapists’ full scope of practice?

hygienist therapistAneekha Dhaliwal urges dentists to use dental hygienist and therapists’ full scope of practice to help spread the workload.

As a newly qualified dental hygienist and therapist, it has been extremely difficult to find a practice that is willing to utilise my full scope.

From my experience in interviews, I believe there is a lack of understanding of the dental therapist’s abilities. This prevents dentists from employing our skills to the full extent. Principals, please understand there is more to us than just cleaning. We can be of great value to your team.

Involve us in smile makeovers

Before any cosmetic treatment is carried out, good oral health should be in situ to avoid any oral health problems occurring in the future.

Refer the patient to the hygiene therapist at the beginning of a smile makeover. Allow us to be a part of the journey. An example of a patient journey is below:

Hygiene therapist

  • Provide enhanced prevention to reduce the risk of further oral disease
  • Manage tooth sensitivity/recession/tooth wear by providing management advice and strategies
  • Take relevant radiographs
  • Arrest and manage gum disease
  • Treat tooth decay
  • Take impressions for whitening trays or possible in chair whitening.


  • Carry out advanced treatment ie implants/bridges/crowns/teeth alignment.

Hygiene therapist

  • Perform aesthetic treatments such as composite bonding
  • Review patients regularly to ensure the maintenance of oral health.

Not only does this free up the dentist’s time to see more patients but it also allows them to do what they truly enjoy and focus their time on more complex treatments. A cost-effective strategy making us of great value to the team.

We can provide preventative and restorative care to child patients

  • Provide a preventative regime personalised to each child
  • Preventative care including fluoride therapy and cleaning
  • Proper brushing instruction
  • Nutritional and dietary recommendations
  • Management of gum diseases and paediatric periodontal disease
  • Treat tooth decay with fillings, hall crowns including pulpotomies
  • Extract deciduous teeth
  • Review patients regularly to ensure the maintenance of oral health.

What can you do?

Whether you’re a dentist, hygienist/hygiene therapist or nurse, I believe every dental professional should have an understanding of each other’s scope of practice. Then we can highlight each other’s skills and help to reduce and alleviate stress on other members of the team. Take a leap of faith and trust us, allow us to practice our full scope.

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