About dentists and dental practitioners

Dentists and dental practitioners help us take care of our teeth and gums. They diagnose and treat diseases of the teeth, gums and mouth, and help take care of our dental health. Dental practitioners include dental hygienists, therapists and prosthetists and oral health therapists.

If you need a dentist, you can find a dental health service near you.

Roles of dental care professionals

Dentists

Dentists provide: 

  • assessment, diagnosis, treatment, management and preventive services  
  • diagnosis and treatment of diseases, injuries and abnormalities of teeth and gums   

  • restorative and preventive procedures 

  • surgery or other specialist services.  

Dentists must complete a minimum 4-year undergraduate degree, or 4-year postgraduate master course. They must complete further training to specialise. 

Dental hygienists

Dental hygienists use preventive, educational and therapeutic methods to help prevent and control oral disease and maintain oral health. They provide: 

  • oral health assessment 

  • diagnosis 

  • treatment 

  • management  

  • education.  

Dental hygienists must complete a minimum 2-year advanced diploma, or 3-year undergraduate course.  

Oral health therapists

Oral health therapists have dual qualifications as dental therapists and hygienists. They may practice as a hygienist, a therapist or both. Unless they have completed further training, oral health therapists treat patients aged under 18 years, with: 

  • oral health assessment 

  • diagnosis 

  • treatment 

  • management and preventive services, such as fillings, tooth extraction and gum treatment 

  • education. 

Oral health therapists must complete a minimum 3-year undergraduate course.  

Dental therapists

Dental therapists generally treat patients under the age of 18, unless they have completed further training. They provide: 

  • oral health assessment 

  • diagnosis

  • treatment 

  • management and preventive services, such as x-rays, examinations, dental impressions and routine treatment.  

Dental therapists must complete a minimum 3-year undergraduate course.  

Dental prosthetists

Dental prosthetists make, fit, supply and repair dentures and other dental appliances. They provide: 

  • education 

  • assessment 

  • treatment 

  • management and provision of removable dentures 

  • flexible, removable mouthguards used for sporting activities.  

Dental prosthetists must complete a minimum 3-year undergraduate or one-year postgraduate course.

Dentist and dental practitioner registration

To practise in Australia, all dentists and dental practitioners must: 

Those who want to broaden their knowledge, expertise and competence can also undertake continuing professional development.

Medicare compliance

We protect Australia’s health payments system from incorrect claiming, inappropriate practice and fraud through a range of compliance activities. We also monitor compliance activity through the Practitioner Review Program (PRP).

Practitioner Review Program

We monitor health practitioner conduct, including dentists and dental practitioners, to identify inappropriate practices. This is done under our Practitioner Review Program.

If the outcome of a review is unresolved, we may refer the matter to the Professional Services Review for further action.

Billing and prescribing compliance

To protect Australia’s health payments system from incorrect claiming, inappropriate practice and fraud, we monitor practitioners' billing and prescribing practices against the:

  • Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS)
  • Child Dental Benefits Scheme (CDBS)
  • Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

Learn more about how we ensure Medicare compliance.

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