21 July 2017
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To Dental Therapy and Beyond

To Dental Therapy and Beyond


Alison Crisp RDH RDT takes us through her journey to becoming a Dental Therapist.

Why did I become a dental therapist?

You know those moments in life when you need a change, a challenge, a new place to go… Well this was mine.

Dentistry is a career I accidentally “fell into”, It seems a long time ago now since I took a job as a trainee dental nurse. Ideally because I needed a job but also a job that was offering training with a view to further career development seemed a viable option.

Little did I know that 12 years of dentistry later I would be a fully qualified Hygiene-Therapist with 5 years experience under my belt and still loving my accidental profession. Because that’s the brilliant thing about dentistry, there are just so many places to go, it’s a profession that continues to grow and change with constant new developments and qualifications to add to your portfolio all the time. This is kind of how I ended up where I am now.

One little trainee dental nurse job led me to be (a few years and hard work later) an experienced Dental Nurse working within the Community Dental Services with extra qualifications in Dental Radiography,  Oral Health Education and Dental Sedation Nursing.

After a while I started to get the feeling that I could do more, I wanted to be more involved and I was at one of those turning points, I needed a bit of a change in life so, drastic as it may seem, I gave up my job and as a mature-ish student went to University for 3 years and came out with a duel qualification in Dental Hygiene and Therapy. 3 long hard years, it’s not an easy course or easy to get accepted as applications far out weight places, it’s 3 years of 9-5 5 days a week lectures, courses, placements, clinics, but was it worth it… A thousand times yes.

Because once again the opportunity arises to do so many things, there is a whole world of dentistry out there to explore and so many different routes for Therapists to take, so many extra things to learn and add on to your CV.

Personally in the 5 years since I have been qualified I have worked in Private, NHS practices and Community Dental Services, I have experience in  Paediatrics (a particular favourite), adults,  Special Care Dentistry (another favourite), Prison Dental Services, I am qualified to level 6 in Makaton and about to undertake my Inhalation Sedation Training.

Dental Therapy is booming – the places at dental schools that offer the Hygiene and Therapy course are highly in demand.

There are so many other things a Therapist can do; Orthodontic Therapy, Whitening courses, own your own practice, Forensic Dentistry,  volunteer for dental charity work, work in other countries, progress your diploma to a degree, research, teaching, work in the Armed Forces. Why wouldn’t you want to be a Therapist? the potential is endless and if we get direct access? Just imagine where we could take our profession, what an exciting and challenging career.

My advice for budding Therapists, team work is key, find the right practice for you, where Therapists are understood and accepted as part of the dental team and used for all their skills, try a bit of everything until you find your niche it may take a while and a few hard knocks along the way but it’s worth it to be able to go to work and enjoy and value what you’re doing, and always continue to learn and develop.

Which leads me on to my newest project; CPD. It’s become a massive part of our professional lives and is present pretty much every day. As big changes within Dental Regulations occur our professionalism and how we prove ourselves competent is very much in the spotlight.

I love learning and attending courses but I’ll be the first to admit I was always a little lax with keeping track of everything I was doing, every year when that dreaded GDC letter arrived asking me for my hours there I was ferreting around trying to find all my little scraps of paper where I’d written down my CPD, which is where the idea for DentalCPDhub came from. It’s a free website that’s allows users to log and track all their CPD, it adds up all your hours and alerts you to whether your core CPD is completed or not.

The quicker you get into good habits of tracking and logging your CPD the better. Proposed changes in the CPD consultation as part of the GDC review have suggested annual declarations,  new minimum hours and Personal Development Plans, which all sounds a bit scary and like a lot more work for us to do, but if your organised and aware of your targets this shouldn’t be a problem, by being able to see exactly what you’ve done and what you still need to do you can plan your learning outcomes and achieve ! So.

Come and visit us at Dental CPD Hub and GET LOGGING !

Alison is a dental Therapist and works at Beeston Dental Practice in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Community Health Services and has a keen interest in special care dentistry, particularly paediatrics.