Dental hygienists and therapists
Healthy teeth and gums are essential for your overall health. There are a range of service providers that you can access to help with your oral care programme - but who does what?
oral health care


Dental therapists

Dental therapists mostly work with children under 18 years. Other names for dental therapists are Community Dental Therapist, School Dental Nurse, Dental Nurse and School Dental Therapist. You are most likely to receive treatment from a Dental Therapist via the free oral health care provided by your local Health Board through primary schools. 

The most common treatments they provide are a general examination, fluoride treatment, fissure sealants, minor fillings, dressings, removal of baby teeth if necessary and oral health education. They operate inside a Code of Practice that has been approved by the Dental Council of New Zealand. If they believe your child may need specialist care they will advise you to seek further advice. 

Dental Hygienist

Dental hygienists typically work in conjunction with Dentists and provide oral health care education, apply fissure sealants and decay prevention treatments. They also provide oral health maintenance treatments such are plaque removal and tooth cleaning. 

In addition, they help detect and treat oral disease and work with the dentists in treating and caring for patients during complex dental procedures. 

It is recommended you visit a hygienist every 6 months. They will assess the overall health of your teeth and gums, and then do a thorough clean, scale and polish. They will also use this time to show you how to care for your teeth at home. 

This article was written for Kidspot NZ. Sources include and

Last revised: Tuesday, 2 December 2014

This article contains general information only and is not intended to replace advice from a qualified health professional.