At National Dental Care we don’t just have dentists – we also have Oral Health Therapists, Hygienists, Nurses and teams of Dental Assistants who work together to care for our patients. But what does it mean to be an Oral Health Therapist?
What does an Oral Health Therapist do?
An Oral Health Therapist (OHT) can work with children, teenagers and adults to improve oral health. In some instances, this can involve treatment planning, diagnosis or educating patients on how to best care for their teeth – and broader oral health – at home. Our team members work together with members of the broader team – like dentists – to give our patients the best advice and health outcomes.
Amy McKimm, OHT, who works at our practice in Post Office Square says “sometimes my day-to-day can involve giving patients advice on home care to improve their oral health.” Amy continues “on a regular day I typically see adults more than kids – because of our Brisbane city-central location – but I enjoy caring for kids too.
“When you become an Oral Health Therapist the degree you do can change the age range of children you are qualified to treat. I studied at The University of Queensland and I’m qualified to care for children as young as four years old or as old as 17 years of age.”
Why become an Oral Health Therapist?
A career choice can propel you into many different directions in life. Your choice of job can determine where you live, the lifestyle you have, and contribute to your mental and physical health throughout life. Many Australians aspire to have a sensible work-life balance.
Amy says “I was always drawn to the dental industry and I’m not sure what in particular attracted me to it. I do appreciate the way positive oral health can improve people’s lives though. I think it’s a lesser-known aspect but there is a link between oral health to heart health, cancer, diabetes and premature birth. Caring for your mouth is linked to caring for your whole body.”
As well as the altruist aspect of caring for others, there are also the perks around working with a good team in a good location. Amy says “Here in our Post Office Square practice, we are close to a lot of shops and we have a little park downstairs – it’s lovely for our team, and for patients – to have a little time in the sun if you have the time.
What advice do you give to patients?
“The common things I encourage patients to do are floss and brush twice a day” says Amy, “those simple steps can really improve your health.
“I am a little wary of fads like oil pulling and charcoal toothpaste. I have had people ask me if I recommend them and I really don’t know enough about them yet, but I do definitely suggest you still keep up a typical routine of brushing and flossing – and that you don’t try and replace new treatments with proven ones.
“I have also seen a lot of damage to teeth from people drinking lemon in their water – I understand it’s said to improve hydration, skin, and digestion – but the acid damages teeth – so it is important to rinse thoroughly with plain water after and wait up to 60min until you brush if you are having lemon water and even having it through a straw to limit the contact with the teeth.”
How do you encourage people to go to the dentist regularly?
At National Dental Care we always try and make our patients feel welcome, and most do return for their regular six-month checkup and clean.
Amy says “at Post Office Square, our patients are busy individuals. We are based in Brisbane CBD and many of our patients pop in for an appointment before or after work, or on their lunch break, or as part of a busy day. We try to accommodate their busy lives in a range of ways. Our team is really helpful with appointment times and we offer free parking to make it just that little bit easier.”