Health Service Categories and Careers


Dentistry is concerned with oral health, the teeth and oral cavity. It seeks to provide management and treatment of dental conditions that affect oral health, including the ability to eat and get nutrition, and the ability to communicate. Dentistry involves diagnostic assessment/X-ray, dental examination, and a range of procedures to improve oral health and function, and which help to reduce pain and infection. These include tooth extraction, root canal therapy, dental prosthesis, cleaning, preventative dentistry and education. Dental services are provided by Dentists, specialist Dentists and other members of the dental team, including Dental Assistants, Hygienists, and Therapists. Dentistry is practiced in hospitals, private practices, and community settings. Technical dentistry services are provided in dental laboratories by Prosthetists and teams of Dental Technicians.

Dentistry Jobs

Dental Assistants, also known as Dental Nurses, work closely with dentists, patients and other staff. They prepare treatment rooms, provide customer service and support patients. They set up, operate, and sterilize dental equipment. They order dental supplies. Importantly, they assist and support the dentist to perform procedures and examinations and record important information about patients' teeth and clinical management. Dental Assistant roles sometimes have crossover dental receptionist responsibilities. Dental Assistants have usually completed a Certificate III in Dental Assisting. However, traineeships and other on-the-job training opportunities exist, as well as further education and licensing to operate radiographic units.

Dental Prosthetists, like Dental Technicians, design, construct and repair dental devices and appliances – including dentures, crowns, splints/night guards, sleep apnoea/anti-snoring devices and mouthguards. However, extra training gives them the ability to work autonomously with patients as well as part of the wider dental team. They provide diagnostic assessment, take measurements, and make moulds and impressions of the mouth and teeth. They construct new appliances in the Dental Laboratory, educate patients about their prosthesis and oral health and refer patients to dental specialists for further care. They may manage a laboratory and team of dental technicians. Dental Prosthetists complete a Diploma of Dental Technology followed by the Advanced Diploma in Dental Prosthetics, or alternatively they complete a Bachelor’s degree in Dental Technology and Dental Prosthetics.

Dental Technicians, also known as Dental Technologists, work in dental laboratory settings. They play a technical and hands-on role making dental appliances, prescribed by the Dentist or Dental Prosthetist, which help to improve a patient’s appearance, speech and/or ability to chew. Dental Technicians have digital design skills, and a good understanding of dental prosthesis materials. They build and repair dental appliances, including dentures, crowns, bridges and dental braces. Dental Technicians have completed a Diploma of Dental Technology and can specialise in certain technologies and dental applications.

Dental Therapists, also known as Oral Health Therapists, assess and treat dental disorders in children and adolescents. They educate and help motivate young people to care for and improve their oral health. They provide routine dental services for children, including dental examinations, cleaning and polishing, fluoride treatment, X-rays, fillings and fissure sealants. They may extract problematic baby teeth. They may work in mobile clinics out in the community, or as part of the dentist-led team in hospitals or private practices. Dental/Oral Health Therapists complete a Bachelor of Oral Health and register with the Dental Board of Australia.

Dental Hygienists, work in dentist-led teams performing preventive dental procedures, the most common being teeth cleaning. They provide education and advice on oral health. They provide patients with routine dental care and this helps to free up the dentist for more complex and specialised procedures. Dental Hygienists complete either a 2-year Advanced Diploma of Oral Health (Dental Hygiene), or a Bachelor's degree in Dental Hygiene or Oral Health.

General Dentists provide general dental care for children and adults, including preventive, restorative, and cosmetic dentistry. They apply fixed prosthodontics, provide periodontal therapy, and perform extractions, surgery, and emergency procedures. They often lead a team of dental professionals and staff. They diagnose diseases, design care plans, perform hygiene checks and periodic exams, take and interpret X-rays and other diagnostic tests, prescribe medications, and refer patients for specialty care as required. General Dentists work in primary and secondary care settings, including private practices and dental hospitals. They complete an accredited 5-year university degree in Dentistry and register with the Dental Board of Australia. They can choose to pursue a dental specialty and postgraduate studies.

Specialist Dentists have undertaken postgraduate training in a specialty area of dentistry, including - oral and maxillofacial surgery, orthodontics, prosthodontics, periodontics, endodontics, paediatric dentistry, public health dentistry, and dental radiology. Specialist Dentists usually work in secondary care settings in hospitals and private practices. They complete a Master or Doctor degree, or attain Fellowship, and register as a specialist dentist with the Dental Board of Australia (AHPRA). Oral and maxillofacial surgery is a specialty of both dentistry and surgery and is recognised by both the Dental Board and the Medical Board of Australia.