These dental professionals provide oral healthcare services to underserved, and often remote, First Nations populations. They may be the primary oral healthcare professional in their community.
Dental therapists in B.C. must be employed by the First Nations Health Authority and may only provide services to First Nations communities under the supervision and direction of a dentist in good standing.
Dental Therapist Services are outlined in Schedule D (PDF) of the BCCOHP Bylaws.
All dental therapists must be employed by the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) and may only provide services in First Nations communities under the supervision and direction of a dentist in good standing with the College. If a dental therapist ends their employment with FHNA, they will automatically cease to be a BCCOHP registrant.
BCCOHP’s professional and ethical standards and requirements apply to dental therapists. Dental therapists are required to maintain registration with BCCOHP and to comply with our quality assurance requirements. They are also subject to BCCOHP’s complaints and discipline procedures.
Dental therapists provide oral health care services to underserved, and often remote First Nations populations. They may be the primary oral health care professional in their community. They must be employed by the First Nations Health Authority and will work under the supervision and direction of a BCCOHP-registered dentist in good standing.
Dental therapists are trained to take X-rays, provide hygiene services, give local anesthetics, provide simple direct restorations, place stainless-steel crowns and extract teeth. They provide more extensive services than dental hygienists and perform some of the services traditionally provided by dentists.
Dental therapists do not practice independently. They work under the supervision of a dentist.
There are five dental therapists working for the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA). The number of positions may increase to a maximum of 25 if the FNHA, the Ministry of Health and BCCOHP agree that an increase is appropriate.
Dental therapists provide services to First Nations community members, many of whom are located in remote areas.
Most dental therapists in Canada completed a formal education program at the National School of Dental Therapy in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. This program lost its federal funding in 2011 and has since been discontinued.
Dental therapy training is a minimum of 20 months and includes pre-clinical and didactic [instructional] components. The curriculum includes human anatomy and physiology; oral and dental anatomy; radiology; preventative dentistry; restorative dentistry; basic oral surgery; local anaesthesia; infection control; client management; community health dentistry; ethics and jurisprudence.
All of BCCOHP’s professional and ethical standards and requirements for dentists and certified dental assistants will also apply to dental therapists. Dental therapists must comply with continuing competency requirements, and will be subject to the existing complaints and discipline process. Dental therapists will also be required to renew their registration annually and pay a registration fee.
It means that all members of the dental team – dentists, dental hygienists, certified dental assistants, denturists, dental technicians and dental therapists – are regulated by one of B.C.’s health colleges. For First Nations people who receive care from dental therapists, it means their oral healthcare is provided by regulated professionals who must show that they meet – and maintain – professionalism and practice standards.