Although there is Foundation Training for new graduate dentists, there is limited availability for Foundation Training for Dental Therapists and, within the South of England, there is one Foundation Training programme run by Health Education Thames Valley, however there are an additional two courses run by West Midlands and Wales (please see the links further information). The scheme is designed to equip dental therapist graduates with the necessary skills, training and education, to work effectively in a general dental practice environment. Foundation Trainees are employed by an approved training practice for 3 days a week within the region. Alongside the experience gained in general practice, trainees are required to attend 12 study days, in addition to individual seminars within the individuals work environment. There are currently no Foundation Training programmes for new graduates of dental hygiene in England.
A new area is orthodontic therapy where therapists work alongside dentists to carry out clinical orthodontic treatment. These programmes are funded by individuals and there are a number in the UK but none are currently available in region of HEE EoE or the South of England. These are run by Universities who manage the programme, with the clinical element being undertaken in approved orthodontic practices. Further details of these programmes can be found on the GDC website.
For qualified dental hygienists who wish to develop their clinical skills further by becoming a dental therapist, there are only a few programmes in the UK to enable this. Currently these are being run at Bristol Dental School, Kings College Hospital and University of Essex. The University of Essex now offer a Dental Therapist Reskill Module for those Dental Therapists who wish to revisit their therapy clinical skills and competencies. Many dental care professionals already possess a joint dental hygiene and dental therapy qualification, but a large proportion of them do not practise the skills of a dental therapist in their workplace. With the advent of the new NHS dental contract the skills of a dental therapist are becoming a valuable part of the new skill mix structure for the delivery of oral health care in the UK.
The University of Essex Oral Health Science academic team currently offer both a Foundation degree dental hygienist training programme and a BSc (Hons) dental therapy training programme from their Southend Campus. This Dental Therapist Reskill Module (HS746) is taught within their state of the art dental skills laboratory alongside the BSc students, allowing existing qualified dental therapists the opportunity to consolidate their existing dental therapy skills to a level of contemporary competence and underpinning their knowledge so that it is consistent with that of a practising dental therapist.