August 2014 Commonwealth of Australia 2014

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Dental prosthetists

What is a dental prosthetist?

Dental prosthetists work as independent practitioners in the assessment, treatment, management and provision of removable dentures and flexible, removable mouthguards used for sporting activities. Dental prosthetists who are educated and trained in a programme of study approved by the National Board may provide various types of splints, sleep apnoea and anti-snoring devices, immediate dentures and immediate additions to existing dentures. These procedures require written referrals to and from dentists and any appliance or device manufactured under such arrangement must be planned, issued and managed by the treating dentist.

How are dental prosthetists trained?

To be eligible to gain registration with the DBA and practise as a dental prosthetist, a person must complete an approved programme of study degree. Currently, there are four approved two-year Advanced Diploma of Dental Prosthetics programmes, offered by vocational education and training providers, which lead to registration as a dental prosthetist. Griffith University also offers a one-year Masters of Dental Technology in Prosthetics, designed to allow dental technicians (who hold a bachelor degree in dental technology) to upskill and register as a dental prosthetist.

What is the assessment process for overseas-trained dental prosthetists?

Dental prosthetists are included on the skilled occupation list and the consolidated sponsored occupation list. This means overseas-trained dental prosthetists can migrate to Australia independently or through sponsored programmes including state and territory, regional and employer sponsored schemes. They are also eligible for temporary migration through the 457 Temporary Work (skilled) visa.

Skills and qualifications of overseas-trained dental prosthetists are assessed for two purposes:

  1. For visa grant purposes. This assessment is conducted by Trades Recognition Australia, with skills and qualifications assessed for equivalency to Australian standards.

  2. For registration purposes. The process for this is currently under review. The exception is those dental prosthetists who are registered to practise in New Zealand – they are eligible to apply for general registration without having completed the ADC assessment (under trans-Tasman mutual recognition).

What issues have stakeholders identified for the dental prosthetist workforce?

Stakeholders highlighted that workforce maldistribution was an issue for the dental prosthetist workforce, with shortages in regional areas. Additionally, scope of practice was highlighted as an issue – overlap exists across dental professions, and dental professionals undertake prosthetics work, which reduces demand for qualified prosthetists.

Existing workforce position

The existing workforce position was determined from expert opinion from jurisdictions and the profession. A traffic light approach was used (as described in Appendix D). The dental prosthetist existing workforce position was assessed as orange – some level of expressed demand exceeding available workforce, either through maldistribution or insufficient workforce numbers.

Workforce characteristics

In 2012, there were 997 practicing dental prosthetists who reported their primary role as being a clinician, an increase of approximately five per cent (or 50 prosthetists) from 2011. There was almost no change in the characteristics of the practicing clinical dental prosthetist workforce between 2011 and 2012 (Table ).

Table : Employed clinician dental prosthetists, workforce characteristics, 2011 and 2012

Workforce characteristic






% female



Average age



% over 55



Average working hours



Full-time equivalent



Source: NHWDS: dental practitioners 2011 and 2012

Workforce inflows


Figure 4 shows the number of domestic students graduating courses in dental prosthetics has grown by approximately one-third (34.2 per cent) from 2007 to 2011.

Figure : Number of domestic dental prosthetist graduates, 2007 to 2011

Source: National Centre for Vocational Education Research and Department of Education


There were no temporary or permanent visas granted to dental prosthetists between 2007 and 2012.

Dental assistants

What is a dental assistant?

Dental assistants prepare patients for dental examination and assist dental practitioners in providing care and treatment.51 Dental assistants may also carry out reception and administration duties.52

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