26: Orthodontic therapists

Chapter 26

Orthodontic therapists

For the orthodontic dental nurse who has taken the Certificate of Orthodontic on Orthodontic Dental Nursing and wants to expand their ongoing professional development further, the next logical step may be to apply to enrol on a course to become an orthodontic therapist.

The orthodontic therapy courses began in 2007 and there was a lot of interest in them from the beginning.

While some of the training is given at the training centres, each student will work under the supervision of their own trainer. The trainers have themselves been trained to undertake this. They will be a specialist orthodontist who works in either secondary care, such as a hospital department or a community clinic, or in primary care in a specialist practice.

Courses follow a modular format.

At the start of the course, the first 8 weeks will contain the core teaching.

The first week they are based at their training base.

The following week they are in their own training unit, training practice.

This pattern continues over eight weeks.

In this way the student has undergone four 5-day weeks of training.

So the 20 days of core training are completed.

The successful candidate has to be able to have sufficient free time to attend the core teaching.

Competition for places is keen. Applications are taken from:

  • dental nurses
  • dental hygienists
  • dental therapists
  • dental technicians

All need to be registered with the General Dental Council (GDC) and have experience of working full time (or the equivalent) for at least a year post qualification.

Dental technicians training is different, so they have to be able to show that they have been on a foundation course to be able to understand the clinical and management side of working with patients in a dental surgery. They must also be able to show knowledge of cross infection, etc.

The orthodontic therapist works under the prescription of a dentist. Only the dentist can:

  • decide on a treatment plan
  • make a diagnosis of disease
  • adjust or activate an arch wire


Biomedical sciences and oral biology

  • Have the knowledge and understanding of those aspects of the biomedical sciences, oral physiology and craniofacial, oral and dental anatomy that are significant in the management of patients
  • Be familiar with those aspects of general anatomy, physiology and biochemistry relevant to orthodontic therapy

Medical emergencies

  • Be competent at carrying out resuscitation techniques
  • Have knowledge of how to identify medical emergencies and provide immediate management of anaphylactic reaction, hypoglycemia, upper respiratory obstruction, cardiac arrest, fits, vasovagal attack, inhalation or ingestion of foreign bodies or haemorrhage
  • Be familiar with the principles of first aid

Dental biomaterials science

  • Be competent at the correct selection and manipulation of the dental biomaterials used by the orthodontic therapists
  • Have knowledge of the science that underpins the dental biomaterials used by the orthodontic therapist
  • Have knowledge of the limitations of such dental biomaterials
  • Be familiar with those aspects of biomaterials safety that relate to the work of the orthodontic therapist/>
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Jan 2, 2015 | Posted by in Orthodontics | Comments Off on 26: Orthodontic therapists
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