Who You Could Meet At the Dentist’s Office

When you schedule an appointment to see a dentist, you actually get service from several different people.  Of course, the phone call you make—unless you do it online—is probably with an Oracare receptionist or appointment setter. This person answers the phone and typically greets patients at the office.  They will set your appointment for you and will likely be the person you will check in with when you arrive at the office.

However, before you even get back to the dentist’s chair you may also speak to a financial specialist. This would be someone who knows the ins and outs of insurance to help you understand your dental insurance coverage and to make sure that your insurance company is properly billed (so you don’t have to pay out of pocket). Of course, if you do not have health insurance, this person could also help you figure out how you are going to pay for this visit (often setting up a payment plan).


Now, once you are ready to sit in the chair, the next person you will probably meet is the dental hygienist. The dental hygienist typically leads you to the chair and will start the appointment by preparing your teeth. This preparation includes a thorough cleaning so the doctor/surgeon can make the most accurate assessment of the health of your teeth.  The dental hygienist will probably use the tooth polisher, a water pick (high pressured water gun, basically), floss, and scraper to thoroughly clean your teeth. They might also assist in the taking and development of dental x-rays.


The next person you will likely see is your dentist.  This is the professional who studied in medical school and is an expert in teeth. Now that your teeth are clean, they can get a good look at how healthy they are.  They will also assess if you need any other treatments or procedures, sometimes recommending other professionals (orthodontist, periodontist, etc) to help you.


Now, you might also encounter a dental assistant, though this person does not always have direct contact with patients. The dental assistant prepares the office by storing, cleaning, disinfecting, and assembling the tools necessary to perform the job.  They might be present during examinations to provide an extra set of hands, but they are not qualified to perform dental surgery procedures on their own.