Scope of practice and supervision of orthodontic therapists in the United Kingdom: Part 1: A national cross-sectional survey of orthodontic therapists

Farooq Ahmed, Charlotte Dugdale, Ovais Malik, David Waring

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Orthodontic therapists (OTs) are the most recent addition to the orthodontic clinical team. The General Dental Council (GDC) and the British Orthodontic Society have formulated guidance and guidelines relating to their scope of practice and level of supervision, however there has been no contemporary UK-based research investigating practice and supervision of OTs. The aim of this study was to investigate the scope of practice and level of supervision of OTs working in the UK. Method: Ethical approval was received from the University of Manchester Research Ethics Committee. An anonymous postal questionnaire was dispatched using postal details acquired through the British Orthodontic Societies mailing list. Three mailings of the questionnaire were conducted. Results: A 74% response rate was achieved. OTs routinely conducted 16 of the 20 procedures from their scope of practice. Uncommon procedures included fitting headgear (24%), lingual appliances (27%), inserting or removing temporary anchorage devices (20%), and taking facebow record (18%). A total of 62% of OTs took patient consent for treatment. 59% were supervised through a written prescription with no direct supervision. OTs were directly supervised for only a quarter of their clinical practice. Orthodontists viewing frequency for OTs varied significantly, and was found to be the following: every 2–4 visits (36%), every other visit (35%), and every visit (26%). Conclusions: OTs mostly carried out the scope of practice as permitted by the GDC. Procedures uncommon to routine orthodontic practice were also uncommon to Orthodontic therapist clinical practice. OTs work mostly through written prescription with no direct supervision.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Orthodontics
Early online date29 Dec 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Keywords

  • orthodontic therapists
  • Orthodontics
  • scope of practice
  • supervision

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