Understanding Your Dentist’s Dedicated Staff

Visiting the dentist’s office at least twice a year is critical for your health. Dentists clean your teeth, check for health issues and offer feedback on how to improve your oral hygiene. While many appointments are postponed now due to the novel coronavirus, when they are open, dentists’ offices rely on the following types of staff.

Dental Hygienists

Dental hygienists perform a function similar to that of nurses at a doctor’s office. They are usually the first people that treat patients. They complete X-rays of patients’ roots and then clean their teeth. While dental hygienists use ordinary tools such as dental floss and toothpaste, they also use specialized equipment with parts such as dental turbines. These tools allow them to remove plaque and treat other issues that patients cannot at home.


Once patients’ teeth are clean, the dentist comes to inspect their teeth. Usually, this involves examining the X-ray pictures taken by the dental hygienist and then using a mirror and a sickle probe or dental explorer to check the teeth. Dentists look for cavities, gingivitis and other issues that need to be treated. Sometimes, they offer treatment immediately, but for long procedures, such as filling a cavity, they ask patients to schedule a follow-up appointment.


Not every dentist’s office has a dedicated receptionist; sometimes, the dental hygienists and dentists have to perform this function themselves. However, established offices usually have receptionists who schedule appointments, review patients’ insurance and help patients complete any necessary paperwork as they arrive. Because dental insurance is so complicated, it’s best if a receptionist can handle patients’ questions, since dental hygienists are likely to be distracted by their other duties.

You may not think about the dentist’s office much, but it involves many highly trained professionals who work hard to keep you and their other patients healthy.

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