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Frequently Asked Questions
What is an Oral Health Therapist (OHT)?
They are part of a team of Dental professionals working alongside Dentists to ensure that the oral hygiene of patients is at an optimal level before receiving complex/specialist treatment. An Oral Health Therapist is not a Dental Assistant, they treat actual patients.
They are specially trained to treat children for extractions and fillings for milk teeth. They also see patients of all ages for scaling, polishing and deep cleaning.
Oral Health Therapists are licensed to treat patients under the prescription of a Registered Dentist (Please see “About Oral Health Therapy” page for more information).
Why you should see an Oral Health Therapist?
Did you know… Oral Health Therapist are also known as Dental Hygienist in westernized countries. In New Zealand, the profession has been around for close to a century. In America, they have been around for more than 50 years. In Australia, it has been around for more than 30 years.
In Singapore, we are a decade and a half young. Despite our youthfulness, we are confident that our graduates conduct themselves professionally and ethically.
The bone and gums in our oral cavity support our teeth. Without them, our teeth would be at stake. It is, therefore, imperative that one finds an Oral Health Therapist that they are comfortable making a regular visit to. The OHT will help you maintain the health of your gums on a regular basis and
identify any new budding cavities.
They are the first line of communication with patients when they come back for their 6-monthly dental checkups. OHTs are able to identify and differentiate health; disease, stable; unstable conditions.
What are the main differences between a Dentist and an Oral Health Therapist?
A Dentist does more complex treatment such as Dental Crowns, Bridges, Dentures, Root Canal Treatment, and even Oral Surgery. These treatment modalities require much time in Examination, Diagnosis and Prescription before the actual procedure is carried out.
They are trained under the Bachelor of Dental Science program at the National University of Singapore, certifying them to practice competently on the more complex treatment stated above.
Does this mean that an Oral Health Therapist is less qualified or less competent than a Dentist?
There should not be much debate on the qualification of a clinician. As we know, the IQ and EQ of an individual is merely a gauge of their responses to the external environment around them. Ultimately, it is the amount of experience a person has in the field of work they do.
It would be wiser to allow Oral Health Therapists an opportunity to do a couple rounds of Scaling and Polishing or Deep Cleaning before making a judgment call.
In addition, there have been many testimonials of patients wanting to only see an Oral Health Therapist/Dental Hygienist/Dental Therapist. This is because they are doing the same kind of work throughout the day, allowing them to learn the tricks of the dental procedure.
What are the differences between practices of Oral Health Therapists in Singapore and western countries?
In most westernized countries, OHTs have the autonomy to see and precribe treatment for patients. As the overseas profession have been established over the years, they have been given the liberty to render more treatment modalities such as administering local anesthetic blocks, making of dentures,
debanding of orthodontic appliances, etc.
These countries conduct Bachelor of Oral Health Courses (BOH), qualifying them to practice the specified curriculum in the individual country.
Locally, the SDC has shortlisted overseas accredited universities where graduates from these countries are able to practise the new skillsets they have learnt upon successful approval after submitting a special application to SDC.
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