Oral health therapists

In 2016, the Council approved a new scope for oral health therapists. The new scope comes into effect on 1 November 2017. This page provides information about the implementation process.

Latest information

August 2017: It is now just over two months until the new scope of practice will come into effect, on 1 November 2017. We will be writing to all eligible hygienists and therapists over the next month to provide information on how the introduction of the scope will affect you.

Our application to have oral health therapy recognised as a profession is progressing. The final step is for Cabinet to approve the legislative change. Due to the election in September, this is not likely to happen until after the scope has come into effect but we expect it to be complete by the end of the year. This does not prevent the scope coming into effect on 1 November.

Our application to the Medicines Classification Committee to reclassify local anaesthetic medicines articaine, lignocaine and prilocaine, with or without felypressin, for oral health therapists, has been approved and the new classifications published in the New Zealand Gazette.

Our last application, to add oral health therapists to the Radiation Safety Regulations list of health practitioners exempted from the need of a use licence, similar to other oral health practitioners where radiography forms part of their scope of practice, has been approved. Again, we expect the legislative change to be complete by the end of the year.

Who is eligible to register in the oral health therapy scope of practice?

If you are an oral health graduate with current APCs in both dental hygiene and dental therapy on 1 November, you will automatically be registered as an oral health therapist. You will be issued with a new registration certificate and APC in early November.

There are a number of other scenarios where you may choose to register as an oral health therapist depending on your current registration and practising status. More information will be sent to you closer to the implementation date of 1 November, but in the meantime, you can check this table to find out what your likely options are. 


After approving the oral health therapy scope of practice in October 2016, the Council outlined a series of steps it would need to take to implement the new scope. The steps are detailed here in the outcome letter we issued at the time. 

Click here to see a timeline of the journey.


Oral health therapy scope of practice

Oral health therapy scope of practice

Oral health therapy competencies

Guidance on professional working relationship between oral health therapists and dentist/dental specialist


How the implementation of the new scope will affect you

There are a number of different options available to registered oral health graduates once the new scope comes into effect on 1 November 2017. These scenarios are outlined in this document