The first student intake of the Dental Therapy Course in WA was in 1971 and numbered 15. It was run by the Western Australian Institute of Technology (WAIT) at the Bentley Campus with lectures both at WAIT and the University of WA (UWA). The clinical component was held in West Perth. The course was put into action to provide dental treatment for school children as well as prescribed duties for adults. It was the only course in the world at that time which graduated a dental professional who could adapt too many situations and provide restorative and periodontal treatment whilst working with a dentist in private practice employment. The training also allowed for graduates to work with the School Dental Service.
In 1974, the WA Dental Health Department provided a course as well with an intake of 60 students to boost manpower to its clinics. These two courses amalgamated in 1982 where an agreement saw both institutions working together to produce graduates able to register for work in either the public or private sector.
In 1974, the Dental Therapy Association of WA (DTAWA) was formed by the 12 first graduates and the second graduated cohort. It was intended as a mentoring for new graduates and an avenue where issues of concern were discussed in the fledgling profession.
In 1996, the course changed to two separate streams. School Dental Therapy and Dental Hygiene ran side by side and produced graduates who worked exclusively in their particular area. The DTAWA changed its name to the Dental Therapy & Hygiene Association of WA DTHAWA (Inc.) to encompass the new graduates.
A further change in 2011 saw the final graduates in both the School Dental Therapy and Dental Hygiene Associate Degree Courses. Curtin University of Technology now solely offers a Bachelor of Science (Oral Health) Degree. The DTHAWA has completed another name change to the Australian Dental & Oral Health Therapists’ Association WA Branch (Inc.) and offers membership to dental therapists, oral health therapists and dental hygienists.