Case study

Dental therapist — Justine Ryles

Justine undertakes a variety of dental procedures on patients ranging from young children to the elderly. Discover her top tips for anyone interested in a career in the dental profession

How did you get your job?

I studied for a degree in dental hygiene and therapy at the University of Birmingham, graduating in July 2017. I then gained a place on a one-year foundation training programme. As part of the programme, I got a position with my current employer and on completion of the training I was asked to join the practice as their permanent dental therapist.

What's a typical working day like?

I currently work within three general dental practices where I undertake a combination of both hygiene and restorative treatment for both adult and paediatric patients from a diverse range of backgrounds. Due to my work pattern, I'm based across different areas of Birmingham and amongst varying sizes of practices/dental teams.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy meeting new people and positively influencing their attitude towards their dental health and general well-being. Having the ability to enhance someone's life in as little as one appointment is so rewarding.

What are the challenges?

Time restraints can be particularly challenging. There is so much to do and it's vital you can manage your time effectively.

How is your degree relevant?

My degree was vital in enabling me to register with the General Dental Council and practise as a dental therapist.

During my degree I was able to develop the skills needed to communicate effectively with patients and encourage them to make positive and long-lasting changes to their dental health.

How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?

The role of any dental healthcare professional is always expanding and changing in order to keep up to date with new techniques and materials. I believe the Scope of Practice for dental therapists will continue to grow and that the increase in procedures available will lead to additional training opportunities.

I hope in the future to apply for courses in areas such as facial aesthetics and to work outside of general dental practice.

What's your advice to others wanting to become dental therapists?

I would encourage candidates looking to pursue a career in dental therapy to get work experience placements, ideally across different sectors such as general dental practice, community and hospital. This gives a true insight into everyday working life, the varied options available to you and the ability to ask vital questions to those currently within the role.

In addition, visit the General Dental Council website and research the dental therapist Scope of Practice in order to familiarise yourself with the different procedures/treatments that can be undertaken. Where possible, it's also helpful to gain volunteer experience.

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