Dental treatment is usually performed by a team of dentists that may include dental assistants, therapists, hygienists and technicians. It doesn’t mean that every patient must be treated by four physicians, but different specialists can narrow the scope of required treatment and diagnose oral health problems better.
Dental assistants are providing assistant functions during dental treatment. They sterilize equipment, maintain dental records, mix materials, pass instruments, hold suction devices, take impressions, etc., thus becoming operator extra pair of hands.
Dental therapists’ role may vary due to their competence and levels of education and experience. They provide preventative services, but can be restricted to working only with children or adults. Children therapy is separated into another medicine branch – pediatric dentistry. Typical therapist duties are: children teeth examination, local anesthesia administering, providing scaling and cleaning for children, taking radiographs.
Dental hygienists are licensed dental professionals. They specialize in treatment and prevention of oral diseases, with the major role of periodontal therapy. These specialists perform examinations, make diagnosis, periodontal scaling and root planting, cleaning procedures, etc. Some physicians are licensed to administer local anesthesia and perform radiography.
Dental technicians fabricate custom made dental appliances. They include fixed prosthetics (crowns, bridges and implants), removable prosthetics (dentures and partial dentures), maxillofacial prosthetics (ocular and craniofacial prosthetics) and orthodontics and auxiliaries (mouthguards and orthodontic appliances). All the appliances are made by drawings and measurements taken from the patient (so-called “dental model” – a dental impression of patient anatomy), after prescription by the dentist.