The Dentist Magazine.

Update of guidance on supervision of orthodontic therapists

Published: 03/05/2017

The British Orthodontic Society (BOS) has updated its guidance on the supervision of orthodontic therapists (OTs).

More than 400 OTs have been trained and entered the orthodontic workforce in the last ten years and the number of OTs qualifying annually now exceeds the number of orthodontists completing postgraduate training.

The guidance is important to support the way that orthodontic teams operate in the workplace and also to underpin the training of both orthodontists and OTs. As the OT role has become more established, it’s increasingly important for the guidance to help team members work both safely and in the most efficient way possible.

The key issue, said Simon Littlewood, a member of the working party responsible for updating the guidance and an orthodontic consultant, is that the OT must work to the prescription of an orthodontist.

He said the prescription could be a verbal one or, if the orthodontist could not be present, there could be a detailed prescription in the patient’s notes. The patient should never go for more than one appointment without seeing the orthodontist.

He said the role, which was introduced 10 years ago, had been a valuable addition to the skill mix. “The orthodontist can focus on the diagnosis and treatment planning, while closely overseeing the OT undertaking the practical aspects of the treatment, which OTs are so well trained to undertake. These new guidelines are all about sensible, safe and efficient use of the skill mix in orthodontics, making appropriate use of the knowledge and skills of different members of the orthodontic team for the benefit of our patients”

The original guidance was written by a BOS team when the role achieved recognition from the General Dental Council and was first updated in 2012. This latest 2017 update is expected to be the touchstone for training of all orthodontic teams for a few years to come.