Scopes of practice competencies for dental therapists

This section details the competencies expected from dental therapists in New Zealand.


The Council defines competence as the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behaviours (‘competencies’) an oral health practitioner must have to practise safely, competently, and professionally in their scope of practice.

This document describes the minimum competencies a dental therapy graduate must achieve through their education and training to be registered in the scope of dental therapy.

The competencies prescribe the scope of practice for dental therapy practice.

The competencies are presented in the following domains:

  • Ngaiotanga - Professionalism
  • Whakawhiti kōrero - Communication
  • Kaiakatanga ahurea – Cultural competence (effective until 31 December 2022)
  • Haumarutanga ahurea - Cultural safety (effective from 1 January 2023)
  • Ngā whakaaro kaikini - Critical thinking 
  • Mōhiotanga pūtaiao me te haumaru - Scientific and clinical knowledge
  • Tiaki turoro-  Patient care
  • Te hauora ā-waha o te hapori - Community oral health.

The competencies broadly describe the knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours expected of a dental therapist; and are outcome focussed. The learning curriculum will provide the level and extent of detail needed to facilitate graduates’ achievement of these competencies, for registration in the scope of practice for dental therapy practice.

The attached word version includes English hover text for Kupu Māori.