Know before you go...
Most patients are familiar with the general dentist. The general dentist is educated to provide comprehensive services from dental examinations to dental surgery. While most dental procedures can be provided by the general dentist, a patient may be referred to a specialist if the general dentist feels special expertise is necessary.
The American and Oregon Dental Associations recognize these nine types of specialist:
At your dental visit...
When you visit a dental office, you are usually greeted by someone and then another person talks with you before you may actually meet the dentist. Below is information about the service providers you'll meet at a dental office.
The dentist is responsible and accountable for everything that goes on in the dental office. Only the licensed dentist is educated and trained to diagnose dental problems, plan treatment or prescribe medication. As long as the licensed dentist supervises, certain phases of dental treatment may be delegated to other members of the dental team.
The dental hygienist cleans teeth and performs other functions under the direction and supervision of a licensed dentist. There are two categories of dental hygienist:
1. Registered Dental Hygienist (RDH)
2. Registered Dental Hygienist in Extended Functions (RDHEF)
The Dental Assistant
Under the supervision of the licensed dentist, the job of the dental assistant is to help the dentist at chairside, take x-rays, and perform other support functions.