About the course
Are you a registered Dental Hygienist who wants to register with the General Dental Council as a Dental Therapist? Do you want to develop your role within your dental team while maintaining the flexibility to continue to work in your current role as a Dental Hygienist?
Our BSc (Hons) Oral Health Science is a full-time, one-year course designed to meet an identifiable need for Dental Therapists within your dental team. There is currently much interest in the future role of the Dental Therapist in the delivery of oral healthcare in the UK, and our course enables you to register with the General Dental Council (GDC). Our Oral Health Science programmes have enjoyed a 100% success rate in employability after graduation.
Here at Essex, we have one of the largest portfolios of oral health science courses in the East of England, putting us in a strong position to provide you with excellent training and education. We offer courses that both commissioners and employers believe in, and our training integrates NHS values and principles, meaning that your abiding focus is on helping people.
People are at the heart of all we do, and students are involved in the appropriate treatment of patients from early on within the programme. This allows you to develop and enhance crucial skills that prepare you to care for patients and clients in the workplace.
Dental Therapists fit for the future
Your development from Dental Hygienist to Dental Therapist will occur through flexible study, including attendance both at our Southend Campus and within a primary care-based placement. This will ordinarily be the existing workplace environment where you currently work as a Dental Hygienist (minimum 14 clinical hours per week).
You increase your clinical skills in a dedicated, state-of-the-art dental skills laboratory at the University, experiencing the academic rigour of a Bachelor’s Degree through structured learning that builds upon your existing knowledge.
Your academic study is integrated with other healthcare professionals to promote excellence and understanding of your role in general health. You benefit from small group teaching and personalised feedback and further develop the skills and competencies required of a Dental Therapist in the primary care environment.
Benefits to Dental Practices
Even for industry leaders, keeping pace can be a challenge. So when considering the latest investments, it can be easy to overlook your most valuable resource – your staff. Because above all, your patients need to know they’re in good hands.
Our course provides you with the opportunity to be closely involved in the professional development of a valued member of your team. Enrolling a student on our course will increase the clinical skill set available within your practice, putting you in an advantageous position in terms of skill mix in anticipation of changes in how dentistry is delivered in the future.
As the programme is taught through flexible study including university and work based teaching, the student will continue to work in practice whilst studying.
The primary care based placement where you develop your skills, will ordinarily be an existing workplace environment where you currently work as a Dental Hygienist (minimum 14 clinical hours per week).
You will need to identify a clinical supervisor (clinical educator) who will support your learning within the placement.
We are committed to embedding the NHS Constitution Values (which are strongly reflected in our University values) into everything we do. They define the behaviours and expectations of all our staff and students underpinning the work we do in the university, clinical arena and other workplaces.
We understand that not all of our students and staff are employed within the NHS, but these values uphold the underlying principles of excellent care as a standard and as such we expect that anyone who has any aspect of their work which ultimately cares for others will aspire to uphold these values.
For us, involving not only our students but service users, experts by experience, carers and NHS/non NHS professionals in the creation and delivery of all programmes is vital.
Our expert staff
A unique feature of our School is that most of our staff work or have worked within clinical practice. This enhances our grasp of the contemporary links between academic research, the major issues of the day and real-life practice.
Oral Health Science is taught by registered experienced staff including dentists and dental therapists, with a variety of different backgrounds. Prof Phil Cannell, Subject Lead for Oral Health Science, is also a partner at Chalkwell Dental Practice, and has won awards for staff management in the past. As a respected educationalist, he was recently awarded the first Fellowship in teaching, education and assessment by the Faculty of General Dental Practice (UK) (FGDP) of the Royal College of Surgeons of England.
Other members of staff include Sarah Murray, a leading dental hygienist/therapist in the UK, who was awarded the 2007 Hygienist of the Year Award, and the 2013 British Society of Dental Hygiene and Therapy Gerald Leatherman Award for services to the profession. Sarah also works with a number of national organisations and professional bodies to promote dental hygienists and therapists, including the GDC, Faculty of General Dental Practice Royal College of Surgeons UK.
Full details of our staff can be found on the HHS Staff Profiles.
As a School, we specialise in applied, multidisciplinary research that addresses issues of national and international concern to health and social care policy and practice and related fields. We also host the NIHR Research Design Service for the East of England.
The School of Health and Human Sciences is located at two sites; in the Kimmy Eldridge building at our Colchester Campus and in the Gateway Building at our Southend Campus.
The Oral Health Science facilities are located in the Gateway Building, and BSc Oral Health Science is currently taught at our Southend campus. We offer clinical laboratories with the very latest equipment and IT facilities - in particular, a state-of-the-art dental skills lab with the latest simulation ‘phantom heads’ to practise on.
At Southend you will find purpose-built accommodation to meet the needs of a growing and lively School. We offer excellent physical and online resources in terms of libraries, computer labs, datasets, archives and other research materials including the Forum library on the Southend campus.
As a Dental Therapist, you will be a working as a Dental Care Professional in all sectors of dentistry. A Dental Therapist provides a range of restorative dental treatments to adults and children and the delivery of oral health care and advice. You will need a flexible team approach, high levels of manual dexterity, professionalism and a caring attitude. Good communication, problem-solving and decision-making skills will also be vitally important for you in this role.
On successful completion of this course you will be eligible to register with the General Dental Council (GDC), which is the statutory body for regulating dental professionals within the UK. The GDC monitors education, and our BSc’s curriculum has been designed to comply with the GDC documents Preparing for practice and Standards for Education.
For further details on the role of a Dental Therapist, please review the Preparing for practice PDF from the GDC website – which is under the header “Dental team learning outcomes for registration”.
By the end of our BSc (Hons) Oral Health Science you will be able to:
- Treat dental caries and place restorations in permanent and primary teeth
- Extract primary teeth under local anaesthesia
- Fit preformed metal crowns on primary molars
- Perform pulp therapies on primary teeth
- Use fluoride therapies to reduce dental caries
- Take and interpret dental radiographs
- Provide holistic care, prevention and oral health advice
- Appreciate the role of the Dental Therapist within oral health care and the wider health care community
Our programme is full-time over 45 weeks. Term dates do not coincide with our normal University term dates due to this requirement. Any time missed by non-attendance, through sickness or other personal reason, will need to be made up in order to successfully complete the programme.
To ensure that you have a good basis from which to develop, the first four weeks of the course are full-time at our Southend campus. After this initial period there are a number of mandatory study days which will be held on Thursdays and Fridays when you will be expected to attend University.
The dates for holiday breaks are timetabled throughout the programme and these cannot be changed for individual students. The planned holiday periods include time at Easter, summer, Christmas and New Year.
These carefully selected modules will give you the chance to explore, question, and create powerful ideas. Picked to give you an extensive and in-depth education, they’ll equip you with the specialist knowledge, vital transferrable skills, and the confidence to make a genuine difference to the world around you.
We’re reactive, we’re pioneering, we never stand still, so modules might change from year to year in response to new developments and innovation. Those listed below show how a typical course might look, but more detail on course structure, including details of all optional modules, is available on our Programme Specification.
Gain the foundation knowledge and skills to manage plaque related diseases, including the management of dental caries and non-carious tooth surface loss. You study both restorative techniques and preventative strategies, learning to employ balanced, evidence-based arguments judged on the patient’s medical, social and dental history, as well as clinical examination.
You develop existing child psychology and behaviour management skills to an advanced level, enabling you to provide clinical and restorative treatment to young children and adolescents. You explore a wide range of topics pertaining to the managing children and adolescents, including behavioural management, diagnosis and treatment.
Building on theory gained from previous experience and modules, you integrate knowledge of tooth morphology, pulpal physiology and clinical radiology with cavity design, restorative techniques and dental materials. This enables you to develop a comprehensive, patient-centred, problem-solving approach to clinical assessment and treatment planning. You also enhance other key skills such as communication, anxiety management and dealing sensitively with patients.
Bring together your knowledge of primary tooth morphology, pulpal physiology and clinical radiology with cavity design, restorative techniques and dental materials. Combining clinical skills with behavioural management, you learn to provide clinical restorative treatment to young children and adults, using a patient centred, evidence-based and holistic approach.
Consolidate your knowledge and fine-tune your skills in a clinical setting. You draw upon your acquired knowledge of medical histories, clinical examinations, ionising radiography, diagnosis and treatment planning, advanced restorative procedures and possible complications, dental materials, oral therapeutics, pathology and medicine, as well as the social aspects and medical conditions related to aging and adolescence.
- Teaching methods including problem-based learning, tutorials, e-learning and seminar-based teaching
- Teaching takes place with other health students to promote multidisciplinary learning and working
- Communication and clinical skills are taught in our state-of-the-art laboratory
- You undertake placements in six different clinical settings
- Academically and clinically intense, your progress on this course will be continuously assessed throughout the programme
UK entry requirements
Please be aware that we are not able to accept applications for deferred entry for this course.
You should have:
- current registration with the GDC as Dental Hygienist
- evidence of your existing dental hygiene qualification
- evidence of core training in or extended skills training in infiltration and ID block analgesia, dental radiography and dental impressions (if these competencies were not part of the applicant’s dental hygiene qualification)
- current IR(ME)R CPD certification regarding dental radiography (as part of CPD cycle if appropriate)
- for those students for whom English is not your native language, you would also need to successfully complete the IELTS testing with a score of 6.5 or above
You must also have:
- two satisfactory references (including an academic reference); and
- provided evidence of an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service check (formerly known as CRB); as well as
- passed a satisfactory Work Health Assessment/Occupational Health check - organised by the University.
As part of the selection process, you will be expected to demonstrate knowledge and a good understanding of the scope of work that a Dental Therapist is required to undertake. If you are selected for interview you may also be required to sit a Literacy & Numeracy test.
As part of the interview process, your proposed clinical educator from your work based placement will also be required to attend on the interview day. Your proposed clinical educator should be a different person from either of your referees.
International and EU entry requirements
We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries.
for further details about the qualifications we accept. Include information in your email about the
high school qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.