On the average visit to your Knightdale dentist office, you will interact with quite a few different kinds of professionals. There is the friendly office staff that greets you, schedules appointments, and handles billing. Once you get back to the exam room, you will most likely see three additional roles—that of dental hygienist, dental assistant, and of course the dentist himself. The titles “dental hygienist” and “dental assistant” don’t do much to help you understand just what they do, and as you watch them work, it can seem like they are sometimes overlapping in their duties. Why do both positions exist, and why does it take so many people to take care of your teeth? Here’s an explanation of what all of those people are doing as they help your dentist in Knightdale, NC maintain your great oral health.
A dental assistant does just that—assists the Knightdale dentist as he performs tasks that require his high level of professional training. Before the dentist can actually apply his tools to your teeth and gums, there is a huge amount of preparation that must take place. The assistant locates all of the items necessary for the procedure, sanitizes them, places them within easy reach, and stays nearby to get the dentist anything else he needs along the way. Once the dentist finishes the root canal, filling, or tooth extraction, the assistant is responsible to safely dispose of used materials and sanitize instruments in preparation for the next patient.
The dental assistant is usually the one to provide you, the patient, with all the information you need before and after your procedure. Often, the success of your dentist’s work depends on you following certain instructions after you return home to keep the area clean and healthy. The dental assistant gives you those instructions and answers any questions you have about them.
While the dental hygienist also acts as a kind of assistant to your Knightdale dentist, he or she has a more independent role than the dental assistant. The hygienist is responsible for conducting routine cleanings, removing plaque and other types of buildup from your teeth and gums during normal exams. Most hygienists are also able to take x-rays to look for dental problems that may require special attention. In fact, during a normal checkup, you will probably spend most of your time with a dental hygienist rather than the dentist himself. Another important role of the dental hygienist is to educate and provide resources for patients so that they can practice excellent dental hygiene on a daily basis at home.
To become a dental hygienist, the individual must complete a college-level program (often a two-year degree) and pass the licensing exam of the state in which they plan to practice. The requirements for practicing as a dental hygienist vary by state, so a hygienist who moves to North Carolina must take a test to ensure that they understand the state’s specific policies and practices.
The Knightdale Dentist
Of course, while you may not see the dentist in person very long during a routine visit, he is very closely involved in your oral health! The hygienist discusses the results of your cleaning and x-rays with him, and informs him about any unusual factors that may indicate the need for additional attention. If the dentist examines you and decides that an advanced procedure such as a root canal or extraction is required, he will take over and put his training and experience to work for you—with the help of his assistants, of course!
The dental assistants and dental hygienists that serve you at New Hope Dental are professionally trained and have years of experience helping families like yours enjoy great oral health. What’s more, they love what they do! Each of our team members is here because they get a great sense of satisfaction from helping our neighbors here in the Raleigh area maintain their dental hygiene, correct oral health issues before they become more serious, and resolve serious problems caused by injury or disease. We hope you will call or email today to set up your first appointment with our expert Knightdale dentist and his friendly team.