Dental Hygiene and Dental Therapy

Dental Hygienists and Dental Therapists can work in all sectors of dentistry, their role is twofold.

They have both clinical and health promotional responsibilities. Clinically they help to treat and prevent periodontal (gum) disease by scaling and polishing teeth, applying prophylactic materials, they take dental radiographs and undertake monitoring and screening procedures.

Dental Hygienists and Dental Therapists can also treat the dentition with restorations, placement of preformed crowns and pulp treatments on primary teeth (baby or milk teeth).

Dental Hygienists and Dental Therapists are also permitted to apply topical fluorides and fissure sealants in order to reduce dental caries (tooth decay).

Their health promotional role includes motivating and encouraging individuals and groups in oral health practises, including oral hygiene and dietary advice.

Dental Hygienists and Dental Therapists need to work with a flexible team approach; to have good communication skills and to demonstrate a high level of manual dexterity in order to undertake complex oral treatments.

Following qualification, Dental Hygienists and Dental Therapists can work in many settings - NHS/Independent general practice, specialist periodontal or orthodontic practice, hospital (staff hygienists, tutors/lecturer, and specialist departments eg. special needs), education, research, health promotion and community as well as working aboard.

Once qualified, continuing professional development (CPD) is important in order to keep skills and knowledge up to date. At BSDHT eCPD events a 'Certificate of Attendance' is issued to indicate that the course meets the criteria of the GDC lifelong learning scheme.


There are several ways to qualify as a Dental Hygienist / Dental Therapist:

  • Diploma in Dental Hygiene - two year full time course
  • Diploma in Dental Hygiene & Therapy – 27 month full time course 
  • BSc in Oral Health Science - three year full time course 
  • BSc (Hons) (Edinburgh) - four year course. 

Along with Diploma in Dental Hygiene, the University of Essex also offer a Foundation Degree in Oral Health Science (2 year course). 

The entry requirements for these courses vary and you are advised to contact the school of your choice directly for a prospectus. 

To have worked in a dental environment and obtained a dental nurse qualification, would be advantageous.

All training is based on the curricula determined by the General Dental Council. A further General Dental Council document confirms your scope of practice.

Useful links to University Course Guides for information on suitable courses:

  1. WhatUni? website for information on Dental Hygiene Degree Courses
  2. The UniGuide
  3. NHS Health Education England - 'Health Careers' Course Finder


There are 21 training schools in the UK that offer training to become a Dental Hygienist / Dental Therapist - a full list is given below. Most training courses lead to a joint qualification.

For further details of the courses available, please write to the individual schools, enclosing a large SAE to request a prospectus. The prospectus will provide details about the course structure, qualifications at the end of the training, the length of the training course, entry requirements, when the course starts and how to apply.

University of Birmingham          

0121 236 8611 / 0121 237 2802

University of Bristol

0117 342 4136

Cardiff University


029 2074 4251

University of Dundee

 01382 384697

University of Edinburgh


0131 536 4937

University of Essex

 01702 328469

Glasgow Caledonian University

University of the Highlands & Inverness

01463 255842

University of Leeds

0113 3432336 Email:

University of Liverpool

          The Diploma in Dental Hygiene / Dental Therapy is no longer being offered at University of Liverpool.

King's College Hospital London

020 3299 5214

Queen Mary University of London


020 7882 8157

University College London Hospitals

020 3456 1205

University of Manchester

0161 306 0231

Greater Manchester School for DCPs

          The School will no longer be running any Dental Hygiene/Dental Therapy Diploma programmes.

Newcastle University

 0191 282 4679

Plymouth University Peninsula Schools Medicine & Dentistry

01752 437333

University of Central Lancashire (Preston)

 This course is based in the School of Dentistry
Telephone us for further information +44(0)1772 892400
or email us at: | Book a visit

University of Portsmouth

023 9284 5566

University of Sheffield

0114 215 9384 Email:

Teesside University

01642 384110
UCAS code: B750 BSc/DHDT
Typical offer: 240 tariff points

Useful Link to WhatUni? website for information on Dental Hygiene Degree Courses 

Dental Therapist Re-skill (for trained Dental Hygienists)

Increasingly, the skills of dental therapists are being acknowledged as a valuable part of the skill mix structure for the delivery of oral health care in the UK.
Whilst many dental care professionals possess a joint dental hygiene and dental therapy qualification, some do not have the opportunity to practise the skills of a dental therapist in their workplace.
This module enables you to consolidate your existing dental therapy skills to a level of contemporary competence and develop your knowledge so that it is consistent with that of a practising dental therapist. The module will provide you with the expertise to practice with confidence, compassion and professionalism.
The module is taught 1 day per week over 20 weeks within one of the specially designed university dental skills laboratories.
The Academic Dental Clinic where the module is based is located on Bromley Road, Colchester, CO4 3JE.

Adaptation Programme for overseas trained Dental Hygienists

The Dental Hygienist Adaptation Module is suitable if you are a dental hygienist with an existing qualification from another country who has undertaken the GDC Dental Care Professional assessment of your existing qualification. It will help achieve the GDC required learning outcomes for registration as a Hygienist in the UK. If you are a UK Hygienist returning to practice, the Dental Hygienist Adaptation Module is an ideal refresher course that can offer you required CPD hours for re-registration with the GDC. 

For further information, please contact The School of Health and Human Sciences, The University of Essex, Southend Campus, Elmer Approach, Southend-on-Sea, Essex, SS1 1LW.

T: 01702 328375 / E<