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Department of Dental Hygiene and Therapy

The Department of Dental Hygiene and Therapy is located at the Oral Health Centre of Western Australia.

dht student practicing


The Department was established in 1971 at the Western Australian Institute of Technology (now Curtin University of Technology). At the time, dental decay rates were very high and the Department offered an Associate Diploma in Dental Therapy with the main focus on the prevention and treatment of decay in children. The Associate Diploma in Dental Therapy differed from other Dental Therapy training programs in Australia however, by also incorporating a component dealing with the management of gum disease in adults.

The main employment destinations for Dental Therapists were private practice and the Health Department’s School Dental Service program. From 1974 until 1983 in response to an increased demand for Dental Therapists with the commencement and expansion of the School Dental Service, the then Department of Public Health of Western Australia also offered an in-service program leading to a Certificate of Dental Therapy. The Associate Diploma in Dental Therapy continued to operate until 1995.

Following the 1994 report of the Committee that undertook the “Review of Dental Therapy, Including Training and of the Numbers of Dentists Required to Meet Local Requirements” the Department offered separate programs in dental hygiene and dental therapy. The Associate Degree in Dental Hygiene was offered from 1995 until 2011 and the Associate Degree in School Dental Therapy from 2000 until 2011.

Dental Hygiene and Therapy education continues to evolve and to help meet future needs the Department introduced the new 3-year Bachelor of Science (Oral Health Therapy) program in 2011 that incorporates elements of both the dental hygiene and therapy programs.

Graduates may perform a range of clinical procedures including scaling and cleaning of teeth and the management of gum problems, fillings and simple extractions for children, the application of fluoride and other solutions to teeth and gums, local analgesia, dental radiography, taking impressions and a range of orthodontic duties. Promoting oral health and providing dental health education and preventive care are also major roles for graduates.


To prepare graduates in oral health therapy (dental hygiene and therapy) that benefit our students and enhance the oral health of individuals and communities

Department values

– Excellence in scholarship, teaching and clinical practice;
– Ethical practice and social responsibility;
– Professional partnerships and a collegial environment;
– Respect for individuals and their contributions;
– Responsiveness to changing community needs;
– Continuing education and research.


As part of its undergraduate programs, the department operates a dental hygiene clinic open to the general public.

Services provided have a preventive focus and include scaling and cleaning and the assessment and management of periodontal (gum) problems. Dental X-rays are also available.

Services are provided by students under the direct supervision of Curtin staff and visiting specialists as required. The services provided are not a substitute for maintaining regular checks with your dentist.

Appointment times are usually approximately 90 minutes. Patients attending pay a nominal fee to assist with the operation of the clinic.

Further details and appointments can be arranged through the department’s secretary on 6457 7882.