Scope of practice competencies for oral health therapists

This section details the competencies expected from oral health 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 an oral health graduate must achieve through their education and training to be registered in the scope of oral health therapy practice. 

The competencies prescribe the scope of practice for oral health 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 an oral health 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 oral health therapy.

It is assumed that all competencies are performed with a degree of quality consistent with patient and whānau well-being, and that oral health therapists can self-evaluate the quality and effectiveness of the care they provide.

There is also a clear link between a number of the competencies and the standards embodied in the standards framework that registered oral health practitioners must meet.

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