Oral health therapists: What is their role in Australian health care?

P. J. Ford, C. S. Farah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of this report was to examine the role of the oral health therapist (OHT) in the contemporary Australian context. The original intent of the OHT role was to address unmet community oral health need in a cost-effective manner. Although it was recognized that OHTs would need to deliver clinical treatment, particularly restorative services for children, the core of their education and their knowledge and proficiency is in oral health and public health promotion. Unmet oral health need persists, and this is especially urgent for the most disadvantaged. Some may argue that this provides evidence that OHTs should provide an expanded range of clinical services, including adult restorative treatment, and that additional training should be provided to enable this to occur. This report counters that view by showing that the current health system does not avail itself of the health promotion services that OHTs are already educated to deliver. Improved health outcomes within the Australian health system are achievable by bringing oral health into the general health system, by introducing models of care aimed at the early detection of risk and disease and by recognizing the importance of public health measures designed to prevent disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-27
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Dental Hygiene
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2013
Externally publishedYes


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