Heidi Nilsson, shown here at work, has just finished the first year of a new degree which combined dental therapy and dental hygiene. Those graduating with a degree in Oral Health could register and practise as dental therapists, dental hygienists or both, and work in public and private practice. Dental hygienists emerged as a new form of dental professional in New Zealand in the 1990s. Hygienists focus on oral health and decay prevention, and are specialists in cleaning teeth, removing plaque (a source of dental decay) and treating gum disease. From 2017 graduates with Oral Heath degrees register in their own oral health therapy scope of practice and are now known as oral health therapists. In the early 21st century a visit to the dentist may be combined with an appointment with a dental hygienist or oral health therapist, who offers their services within an established dental practice.
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New Zealand Herald
Photograph by Bradley Ambrose
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