Many types of dental professionals work in dental practices. These highly trained health professionals are dedicated to serving the oral health care needs of patients. Here we cover the four main dental professionals you may meet at your next dental appointment.
The dental receptionist is usually the first person you will meet when you arrive for your appointment. Dental receptionists greet visitors, answer the telephone, and answer patient questions. They may ask to see your dental insurance card to process insurance forms. They may also schedule appointments, process postal mail, perform various administrative tasks, and ensure the office and waiting area is organized. Dental receptionists are an integral part of any dental office.
A dental assistant is an important member of the dental care team. Dental assistants assist the dentist in providing the best oral health care to patients. They perform many tasks throughout the day including:
- Communicating with patients about their oral care needs
- Assist the dentist during treatment procedures
- Taking and developing dental x-rays
- Ask the patient about their medical history
- Take a patient's blood pressure and check the pulse
- Help patients feel comfortable during their visit
- Sterilize and prepare dental instruments and equipment
- Instruct patients concerning at-home oral care such as after oral surgery, after fillings, or other dental procedures
- Teach patients about oral hygiene (flossing, brushing, nutritional counseling)
The dentist and dental hygienist work as a team to meet a patient's oral health needs. The services that dental hygienists provide may vary from state to state. Dental hygienists often provide these patient services:
- Remove plaque and calculus from teeth surfaces
- Make an impression of a patient's teeth (used by the dentist to evaluate a patient's oral care needs)
- Apply a preventive material (fluoride, sealant) to a patient's teeth
- Assess a patient's overall oral health condition including:
- A health history review
- Oral cancer screening
- Head and neck inspection
- Dental charting
Dentists are degreed clinicians who are devoted to providing the best oral care for their patients. Dentists diagnose and treat oral diseases and other oral health conditions.
Typically, dentists earn an undergraduate degree at college and then attend a DDS/DMD program at a dental school. It usually takes a dental student four years to graduate from a dentistry program.
Dentists often provide these patient services:
- Perform dental procedures, including exams, crowns, fillings, implants, inlays, onlays, extractions, and corrective surgeries.
- Evaluates the general health of patients
- Advises patients about oral health and disease prevention
- Diagnoses and treats oral conditions
- Detects oral cancer and other health conditions that may appear in the mouth before being noticed in other areas of the body
- Treat oral health and detect diseases – including cardiovascular disease
- Treat diseases of the soft tissue or bone inside the mouth
Whether it's performing dental restorative procedures or providing dental education, dental professionals are dedicated to providing the best oral care for their patients.