OHT scope of practice implementation

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

November 2017: The new scope of practice comes into effect on 1 November 2017. We have written to all eligible hygienists and therapists to provide information on how the introduction of the scope will affect them. We have also written to all other practitioners to ensure everyone understands how the new scope will be implemented.

We have created a new section on our website for oral health therapists practising in New Zealand and a section for those wanting to practise oral health therapy in New Zealand.

Our application to have oral health therapy recognised as a profession is progressing. The final step is for Cabinet to approve the legislative change. 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 soon.

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. Please 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