Case study

Dental therapist — Kyle Anderson

Kyle is passionate about his role as a dental therapist and particularly enjoys being able to give patients their smile back. Find out his top tips for getting into the profession

What degree course did you study?

I graduated with a BSc Oral Health Science from the University of the Highlands and Islands in 2020.

How did you get your job?

I qualified during the COVID-19 pandemic, so finding work was difficult. It took me seven months from qualifying to start working as a dental therapist. My tutor from university pointed me in the direction of a good practice, I applied and got the position.   

What's a typical working day like?

I work in a two-surgery practice, which is situated within a medical centre. I work four days a week providing my full scope of practice dental hygiene and therapy to patients of all ages. I provide both NHS and varying levels of private care. The majority of NHS work is paediatric patients.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy the feeling of giving people their smile back. Sometimes as therapists we are referred patients who have a phobia surrounding certain aspects of dental treatment. This includes people of all ages who all have different needs and requirements of treatment and it's really rewarding helping them get over their phobias and re-find their smiles, all while providing some great dental care.

What are the challenges?

A lot of our work is on referral from the dentist, therefore the biggest challenge is working with the dentist. Some dentists may not agree with the approach of treatment that as a therapist we think is most suitable. However, communication is key to ensure that the best treatment for the patient is sought and provided.

In what way is your degree relevant?

Without my degree I would not be able to practise as a therapist and register as a therapist and hygienist with the General Dental Council. The course gives you all the skills to be a good clinician and how to make the most of your career.

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

The role of the dental therapist is continually changing and adapting to allow us to carry out more treatment. This means that we have to stay on top of the latest advice, guidelines and treatment options by attending courses and events regularly. These are run by organisations such as the British Association of Dental Therapists.

In the future I would like to push myself further, owning a general practice in my local area.

What advice can you give to others wanting to get into this job?

  • Get experience. This could be through work experience days or by becoming a dental nurse and experiencing the environment from a different perspective. Also, get experience in different settings such as general dental, hospital or public dental and community dental. There are so many different types of dental care.
  • Do your research. Know what you can do as a therapist and what you can’t do. Find out the history and where therapists came from and compare it to where we are today. Find out the barriers to being a therapist, but also research the opportunities.
  • Speak to qualified therapists, as well as new and current dental therapy students. This can be done via social media channels as well as universities. Find out what people in the profession think about the career. Also, speak to patients who have been treated by a dental therapist to find out their experiences.

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