A visit to the dentist can involve a lot of people, from the dental nurse to the hygienist. Each member of the team has a specific job. Here's what they do.
The dental receptionist makes appointments, answers phone calls and often deals with the paperwork for the practice. The receptionist is usually the first person you'll meet at the practice. It is their job to make patients feel welcome and relaxed before they see the dentist or other professionals.
Dentists are probably your main point of contact with the surgery. They treat and prevent dental and oral health problems, such as tooth decay , gum disease and injuries. They can also offer advice and tips on how to care for your mouth and teeth.
A dental hygienist's role is to prevent dental problems and to promote oral health. A dental hygienist carries out procedures such as scaling and polishing, applying topical fluoride treatments and fissure sealants (white plastic coatings painted onto the biting surface of back teeth), and sometimes teeth whitening.
Dental therapists are the least common of the dental healthcare professionals. The types of treatment they carry out are similar to those of a hygienist, but can also include fillings on both permanent and baby teeth, pulp treatment, stainless steel crowns and extractions of baby teeth.
Dental therapists also work with patients with special requirements, such as those who are scared of dentists, who have physical or learning disabilities, who have medical problems or cannot easily access dental treatment.
A dental nurse assists the rest of the dental team in all aspects of patient care. This includes getting instruments ready, sterilising instruments, mixing materials, taking notes and ensuring patients are comfortable.
Dental technicians work with dentists to make dentures (false teeth), crowns, bridges and braces for patients. They may work in specialist areas, such as making dentures for or helping to reconstruct the faces of patients injured in accidents or damaged by disease.
Orthodontics usually involves straightening or moving teeth using braces. Orthodontics can be carried out by a general dentist or a dentist who specialises in this area (known as an orthodontist).