Who is an oral health therapist?
An oral health therapist is a highly skilled professional member of the dental team. Oral health therapists have skills in dental hygiene, dental therapy, and oral health promotion. They educate patients about their oral health; preventive care is a key aspect of their work. They are skilled at promoting healthy lifestyles and have a strong awareness of the socio-cultural influences on health. Oral health therapists diagnose and treat oral diseases (such as gum disease and dental decay), and provide quality care for patients of all ages, including restorative care for children and adolescents.
What will I study?
The University of Otago's Bachelor of Oral Health is an exciting three-year degree at New Zealand's only Faculty of Dentistry. The programme delivers excellent and innovative education in oral health. Oral Health students work with undergraduate and postgraduate dental and dental technology students. This is made possible because the programme is delivered from within the Faculty of Dentistry.
From the beginning of your study, you will work as part of a dental team. You will also have constant access to highly qualifed specialist staff. Graduates will be leaders in the field because the programme ensures its teaching and research are continually refined and improved to keep in step with oral health best-practice. The programme also focuses on enabling its students to be well-prepared for lifelong, self-directed learning.
In the first year of the degree, you will learn how the body works, particularly how oral tissues interact with their environment. You will learn the most effective use of information technology in the study and practice of oral health, and will complete a paper in Māori Society. Clinical practice begins in the first year as well; when you start to develop your clinical skills using models and phantom heads.
The second year introduces pathology, pharmacology, and medicine relevant to oral health. Students will also study a paper in Sociology and one in Public Health. A large part of the year is spent developing clinical skills by treating patients under supervision. The third (final) year concentrates on further clinical training, community oral health, and oral health promotion. You will also undertake a research project.
Admission to the programme
Entry is competitive. To be admitted to the programme, applicants must be eligible to attend university, and should have attained a satisfactory standard in NCEA Level 3 biology or a recognised equivalent.
Online applications can be made to the Health Sciences Admissions Office website from early August, and close on 15 September of the year preceding enrolment. Late applications may be considered.
How to apply
Application information for admission into the Bachelor of Oral Health (BOH) programme is available on the Division of Health Sciences website:
Oral Health: Guidelines for Admission
In order to study Oral Health, you need to have attained a satisfactory standard in NCEA Level 3 biology or an approved equivalent.
You will also need to like working with and caring for people, as well as be reasonably fit and healthy