Aisha is a second year student on the BSc Dental Hygiene and Therapy course. Here she gives us an insight into what it means to be a dental hygiene therapist and what the course offers here at Manchester.
The University of Manchester offers a 3-year BSc degree of Dental Hygiene and Therapy (formerly known as BSc Oral Health Science). This is a very competitive course amongst all dental schools in the UK who offer it and is very rewarding, offering good job security. Dental hygiene and therapy is a growing field, and there is a high demand for qualified professionals.
Dental hygiene therapists are a huge part of the dental team! They ensure the best care for patients, using their unique scope of practice and services to help influence patient management alongside the dentist. This is helpful not just for the patient, but also for the smooth running of the dental practice.
Hygiene therapists also help to grow practices, having a deeper understanding of patients who present with periodontal problems and the need for restorative work, which helps follow an integrated approach of treatment. Many parts of the dental treatment are delegated to the hygiene therapist, so they are almost like the right-hand person of the dentist.
See The British Association of Dental Therapists for the full scope of practice.
Dental hygiene/therapy is great for those who want to get into dentistry, but want to carry out more minimally invasive procedures compared to dental surgery. It is all about education and motivating patients, changing their behaviour.
It is so satisfying and fulfilling making a change to someone,by improving their oral health and ultimately their quality of life. You can build a trusting relationship with your patients through appointment recalls, seeing them on a regular basis and witnessing the positive changes they go through.
There are many progression paths in this industry through further training and education too, including continuing education courses, attending conferences, and joining professional organisations. This allows individuals to stay up-to-date with the latest advances in the field and expand their skills and knowledge. There are also opportunities for dental hygiene therapists to advance their careers by taking on additional responsibilities, such as managing a dental practice or teaching.
Because each year’s cohort is so small at UoM, those studying Dental Hygiene and Therapy receive one-to-one guidance from the amazing undergraduate tutors. This is a huge help when learning, and ensures no-one is left out.
At UoM, dental hygiene/therapy students are integrated with the BDS Dentistry students. This allows you to still have the experience of being part of a large course, meeting new people and receiving the same learning materials as the dentistry course.
Dental hygiene/therapy students are very hands-on from the beginning in year 1 clinical skills. This is where we are taught dental procedures on phantom heads in the University Dental Hospital.
In year 2 we start treating our own patients in the University Dental Hospital. This experience is vital to graduate with full confidence in treating patients.