Your Dental Health Care Team

An Overview Fact Sheet

Each member of your dental health team plays an important role.

Dentist

As the leader of your oral health team, your dentist brings years of specialized education to understanding your oral health. Only dentists can examine your teeth, gums and mouth, and recognize any problems that could affect your overall health.

They have the training and skills to:

  • examine and diagnose your oral condition;
  • recommend and carry out treatment;
  • look for signs of oral cancer—and often be the first to spot them;
  • help you understand oral health care and its importance, helping you to keep your teeth healthy and comfortable for your entire lifetime;
  • inform you about postoperative care options; and
  • perform emergency or required procedures—and help you determine a long-term treatment plan that meets your needs and circumstances.

Dental Therapist

In some jurisdictions, dental therapists work with dentists to provide community-based preventive oral health programs. They also perform basic dental treatment and preventive services as well as providing patient assistance and referrals.

Dental Hygienist

The dental hygienist is registered and trained to clean your teeth and to help you develop a home-care routine tailored to your needs.

Regulations vary from province to province, but a dental hygienist's work often includes:

  • taking x-rays;
  • taking dental impressions; and
  • cleaning, polishing and applying fluoride to your teeth.

In some jurisdictions, the dental hygienist may also be allowed to perform a basic exam.

Dental Assistant

This is the team member who prepares you for treatment, sterilizes instruments, assists your dentist and helps keep your mouth dry during procedures. In some jurisdictions, a dental assistant may also take x-rays and dental impressions, and polish and apply fluoride to your teeth.

Receptionists and Business Staff

Receptionists maintain the dental team's schedules and allow the office to run smoothly. The receptionist is usually your first point of contact and may often provide you with general information about your appointment and billing.