Scope of practice competencies for clinical dental technicians

A competent clinical dental technician is one who applies knowledge, skills, attitudes, communication, and judgement to the delivery of appropriate oral health care in accordance with the scope of practice within which they are registered.

 Understanding current scientific knowledge


A competent clinical dental technician understands current biological, physical, cultural, social, and psychological factors involved in attaining and maintaining oral health. The clinical dental technician is also able to analyse, critique, synthesise and problem solve in the discipline of clinical dental technology.

Measuring understanding

The clinical dental technician:

  • demonstrates an understanding of biological, physical, cultural, social, and psychological factors in clinical dental technology
  • uses these factors to inform best practice
  • communicates this knowledge to patients and the wider community
  • demonstrates familiarity with, and implements, oral health maintenance programmes.

 Obtaining patient information


A competent clinical dental technician obtains, by interview and examination, patient information needed to deliver oral health care, and records this information logically, legibly, and securely. The clinical dental technician complies with the Dental Council’s patient information and records practice standard.

Measuring patient information

Records show:

  • an adequate medical history
  • an adequate dental history
  • adequate charting, demonstrating that all dental tissues and associated structures have been examined closely
  • evidence of the adopted care or treatment plan
  • evidence of the oral health certificate in the treatment of partially dentate patients
  • evidence of the referral of patients to dentists, dental specialists or medical specialists
  • evidence of consent for the care or treatment plan received.

 Analysing information and planning an oral health care treatment plan or programme


A competent clinical dental technician assesses client or patient information to identify oral health problems and their causes. The clinical dental technician then develops a written programme of treatment required to address the problem list including: 

  • the aetiology of dental and oral disease
  • the attainment of oral health
  • priority of management
  • patient options
  • predicted outcome
  • the extent and duration of the treatment
  • support the problem list with evidence.

The clinical dental technician:

  • develops the treatment plan in terms of current best practice justified by the evidence based dental literature
  • recognises one's own limitations and therefore the need for patient referral
  • recognises conditions that require referral and is able to refer to an appropriate health professional any oral pathological condition, which would be detrimental to successful prosthetic work, in addition to the patient's general health
  • counsels edentulous patients in oral health care and refer to other health professionals for pre-treatment or alternative treatment
  • critically analyses the outcome of treatment provided.

Measuring analysis and planning

The clinical dental technician demonstrates and records:

  • accurate information on the examination of the oral cavity, teeth present, missing or restored
  • potentially harmful conditions e.g. enamel caries, gingivitis, calculus, stomatitis, and xerostomia
  • evidence of an oral health certificate in the treatment of partially dentate patients
  • adequate, evidence based, prioritised preventive or treatment protocols including referral to appropriate oral health professionals where appropriate
  • how and why the clinical, physical and biological properties of materials used in the treatment plan may be modified by manipulation, environmental and chemical modifiers, and how these changes relate to the success or failure of these materials
  • the period of recall or review according to best practice.

Providing or making provision for treatment using either complete, root mucosa supported overdentures or partial dentures as described in the HPCA Act 2004 Section 9.(1) and all subsequent amendments.


A competent clinical dental technician communicates the requirements of an oral health care or treatment plan to patients in order to obtain informed consent and where necessary carries out agreed procedures and manages any complications. The clinical dental technician also treats patients empathetically and safely according to the HPCA Act 2003 and the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers’ Rights.

Measuring the provision for treatment

The clinical dental technician demonstrates clinical competence in:

  • providing patients with full explanations and information to make informed decisions
  • demonstrating clinical competence in clinical aspects of the provision of complete, root mucosa supported overdentures and partial dentures
  • designing and constructing fully functionally effective and “aesthetically pleasing” complete dentures, root  and mucosa supported overdentures and partial dentures
  • repairing, relining or rebasing a denture for a patient
  • providing ‘one on one’ counsel and advice to encourage sound attitudes and practices
  • demonstrating a commitment to oral health promotion by working with other health personnel or educational staff where appropriate
  • communicating importance of issues such as diet, smoking, etc on oral health
  • expressing a professional view on fluoride, amalgam and other topical public issues.

 Knowing when to refer


A competent clinical dental technician refers for advice or treatment where diagnosis and treatment planning indicates that the patient requires a level of knowledge or skills greater than those of the clinical dental technician. Any recertification programme or Dental Council minimum recertification requirements are fulfilled.

Measuring clinical competence in referrals

The clinical dental technician demonstrates clinical competence in:

  • making appropriate referrals
  • obtaining advice from other health professionals where necessary
  • completing relevant documentation.

 Assessing the effectiveness of oral health strategies


A competent clinical dental technician objectively assesses both short-term and long-term outcomes of oral health strategies.

Measuring competence in assessing effectiveness

The clinical dental technician demonstrates competence in:

  • understanding the prognosis for treatment strategies offered to individuals and to the community at large
  • communicating this knowledge to patients and the wider community.

 Communicating effectively


A competent clinical dental technician communicates effectively with and educates patients, other health workers, and the public on oral health matters.

Measuring competence in communications

With patients, the clinical dental technician demonstrates:

  • good rapport
  • empathy
  • adequate history-taking technique
  • explanation of findings, treatment options and likely outcomes in easily understood language
  • the ability to assure patient dignity
  • spoken English equivalent to 7.5 on the Academic Skills Category of the International English Language Testing System with no less than 7 in each of the four bands
  • adaptation of information to the patient’s level of comprehension
  • confirmation of the patient’s understanding of the information provided.

With other health professionals, the clinical dental technician:

  • refers where necessary
  • seeks advice where necessary
  • contributes dental input to overall health treatment planning.

 Providing a culturally safe practice


The competent clinical dental technician sees issues from the perspective of people of other cultures and adheres to the Treaty of Waitangi.

Measuring competence in providing a culturally safe practice

The clinical dental technician demonstrates a commitment to providing culturally safe practice including:

  • observing cultural etiquette where appropriate
  • considering cultural perspective in decision-making
  • practising in a way that respects each patient's identity
  • facilitating the patient’s access to services and resources
  • showing an understanding of the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi.

 Preventing cross infection


The competent clinical dental technician knows the range of common infectious diseases and their relevance to the provision of dental care and understands the pathogenesis of hepatitis and HIV and their implications to clinical practice. The clinical dental technician also undertakes procedures to ensure compliance with Dental Council infection control practice standard.

Measuring competence in preventing cross infection

With equipment and work surface areas, the clinical dental technician:

  • cleans all equipment after use
  • ensures all instruments and equipment are handled and cared for in a manner which prevents cross infection
  • treats all patient body fluids as potentially infectious
  • defines contaminated and uncontaminated work areas
  • uses Chemical indicators with every autoclave cycle
  • uses biological indicators (minimum weekly)
  • follows between patient clean-up and disinfection processes
  • cemonstrates hand-washing protocols.

With personal protocols, the clinical dental technician:

  • complies with wearing of gloves, masks, protective eyewear, protective clothing during treatment phase
  • maintains personal Infection Control audit monthly.

 Maintaining a safe work environment


The competent clinical dental technician undertakes occupational health and safety procedures to ensure compliance with relevant laws and practice standards.

Measuring competence in maintaining a safe work environment

The clinical dental technician demonstrates a safe working environment by:

  • monitoring emergency plans and accident or incident protocols
  • controlling identified hazards by using or taking the protective measures supplied or identified
  • arranging equipment in the clinic to enable clinicians and patients to be able to move safely within this environment
  • checking materials for expiry dates and rotates as required
  • keeping hazardous materials in a secure area
  • placing contaminated waste in a secure container and arranging for appropriate disposal
  • reporting all actual and potential incidents.

 Understanding scientific methodology


The competent clinical dental technician undertakes research and/or analyses relevant scientific literature, and applies findings to the delivery of appropriate oral health care.

Measuring competence in applying recent knowledge to practice

The clinical dental technician demonstrates understanding of current issues including:

  • reading scientific publications in oral health
  • remaining current in research informed practice
  • sharing experiences and case studies of clinical dental technology practice with colleagues.

 Maintaining competence


The competent clinical dental technician maintains competence by monitoring the outcomes of oral health care delivery, and undertaking continuing personal professional development.

Measuring maintaining competence

The clinical dental technician reviews their own professional practice by:

  • monitoring performance against set standards
  • identifying skills, knowledge and attitudes to be developed
  • identifying learning needs for personal professional development
  • implementing an active professional development programme
  • discussing professional issues with colleagues
  • demonstrating compliance with the Dental Council's practice standards
  • fulfilling minimum recertification requirements.

 Understanding and complying with legal requirements


The competent clinical dental technician understands and complies with the ethical responsibilities and legislative requirements for the safe and competent practice of clinical dental technology in New Zealand.

Measuring legal understanding and compliance

The clinical dental technician demonstrates familiarity with, and complies with, relevant legislation and professional standards including:

  • Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003
  • Health and Disabilities Services Consumer Rights
  • Medicines and Misuse of Drugs legislation
  • Privacy Act and the Health Information Privacy Code
  • Occupational safety and health legislation
  • Dental Council prescribed scopes of clinical dental technology practice.