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The first dental therapists (previously called dental auxiliaries), started their training in 1960 and, by the end of 1976, 792 women had qualified after a two-year course. In the present study the role of all dental therapists was investigated by means of a postal survey. The clinical contribution made by these ancillaries was assessed by means of a retrospective analysis of clinic day sheets recorded by 55 dental therapists employed in the community dental services. It was found that dental therapists, in terms of their working pattern and family profile, are typical of women of their age and level of qualification in Britain. The return to work by therapists, after a break from practice because of family commitments, will depend mainly on the availability of posts, particularly part-time posts. Dental therapists provide treatment predominantly for younger children. Compared with previous studies, a noticeable increase in the clinical preventive care provided by therapists was observed.