When you visit a dental surgery for the first time, it is probably easy to think that a dentist does all the hard work. It’s true that a dentist, or oral health therapist, is at the centre of the treatment process, but did you know that your average dental team is generally a lot bigger than just one or two therapists?
Are you heading to a dental surgery for treatment soon? Maybe you’d simply like to know more about how a dental team operates. In any case, here is a quick breakdown of the roles you might find in your average clinic.
Oral Health Therapists
Oral health therapists are professionals who offer a broad scope of care for all oral and dental needs. The main difference between an OHT and a dentist lies in education. An OHT works in both therapy and hygiene. These specialists are relied on to deliver oral health diagnosis, as well as education to patients. OHTs can work to deliver action plans for healthy teeth and gums and can supply a range of treatments.
Dentists are fully trained to carry out all work in the dental surgery. That means that they can not only diagnose and prescribe but may also carry out surgery and intensive investigations. You will normally rely on a dentist, for example, if you need help with a root canal, a filling, or an extraction. Dentists cover the wide spectrum, but you will generally rely on these professionals to supply intensive surgery.
In many cases, dental hygienists can work alongside dentists in the treatment room. They can also support OHTs; however, as an OHT takes on a dual role, their presence is not always required. A hygienist is specialised in oral hygiene and will, therefore, offer patients advice on how to keep their teeth and gums free from harmful bacteria. They will also help to offer treatments such as screening and preventative care.
Dental assistants can support dentists, OHTs and hygienists. These professionals are often training while working and help by assisting more qualified members of the team with general support. A dental assistant will help to prepare equipment, source records and supply a dentist or OHT with the tools they need. Many dental assistants will even help during specific procedures and can be new graduates from medical school.
In addition to all-round dentistry, some dental care professionals choose to focus on one or more areas of concern. For example, a specialist dentist may work exclusively with extractions or may focus on children’s teeth. As these professionals are specialised in their fields, you may wish to approach them if you have a specific concern.
Varied Teams and Professionals
While this is a general overview of the average dental team, they can, of course, vary from surgery to surgery. This means that regardless of who makes up your local surgery, you can always expect a collective of professionals you can trust!