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Who Is Looking In Your Mouth? Identifying Dental Professionals

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It can be confusing to go to the dentist these days. Almost everyone from the office staff to the dentist may be dressed in scrubs, and they all appear to be dental professionals. The good news is that they are dental professionals, and they are there to make your dental visit comfortable and productive. For more information about the various people you might encounter at your next dental visit, read on.

Dental Therapist

While not all dental offices employ these professionals, more and more dentists are recognizing the importance of having a person trained in both dental procedures and liaising with patients. You might find a dental therapist providing consultations to those with dental anxiety as they show them around the office and provide them with some no-pressure exam experiences. They may also take X-rays, use a digital camera to map your mouth, take dental impressions, and more. Many dental therapists are trained to educate patients on good tooth-cleaning techniques, perform oral cancer screenings, and more.

Dental Assistant

These professionals often assist the dentist by taking notes during an examination, and they may also act as a second set of hands when the dentist needs an instrument or assistance with a procedure. They may also be responsible for sanitizing the equipment and other surfaces touched by patients. Before the patient leaves, the dental assistant may go over the treatment plan with the patient and answer any questions about the procedures needed, scheduling, and costs. Later, after the patient has departed, the dental assistant will update the patient's record on a tablet or computer.

Dental Hygienist

Most dental patients are familiar with their dental hygienist. The primary responsibility of the hygienist is in their name. Dental hygiene is an important aspect of patient care as these professionals ensure that patients leave with sparkling clean teeth. In most cases, the hygienist is responsible for brushing and flossing your teeth, followed by the removal of the sticky stuff (tartar and plaque). This removal procedure is followed, usually, by a final rinse and tooth polishing. You may also get some lessons in proper brushing techniques. In some cases, the hygienist will perform a scaling of the teeth. That involves pushing back the gums so that they can be better cleaned.

Your dentist will coordinate your care, perform exams, and create a treatment plan for future appointments. When a tooth needs to be filled, the dentist will perform that procedure along with a myriad of other jobs. The dentist may be the most important person in a dental practice, but a good dental team is made up of everyone from the office staff to the dentist. Experience the team approach and make an appointment for a check-up soon.

Contact a dental services provider to learn more.