Wisconsin Dental Association

Tongue ‘n’ Cheek... and Teeth, too! In this issue: Meet the dental team Expanded health coverage spurs dental visit increase for college-age adults Doctors of oral health Become a label detective E-cigarettes: A growing concern TNC earns regional, national awards Sign up for FREE, quarterly Tongue ‘n’ Cheek…and Teeth, too! patient e-newsletter, so you don’t miss important oral health news and dental tips! Meet the dental team A team is defined as a group of people who come together to achieve a common goal. In dentistry, each dental team member has a different skill set and plays an important role in running an efficient and successful practice while providing high-quality care to patients. Dentists Leading the dental team is the dentist, a doctor specializing in oral health who has earned either a doctor of dental medicine (DMD) degree or a doctor of dental surgery (DDS) degree. Dentists who have a DMD or DDS degree have the same education from an accredited dental school. Both have the same curriculum requirements set by the American Dental Association. Dentist’s responsibilities include: • Diagnosing oral diseases • Educating patient’s about the importance of oral health and disease prevention • Developing treatment plans to maintain or restore the oral health of their patients • Interpreting X-rays and diagnostic tests • Ensuring the safe administration of anesthetics • Monitoring growth and development of the teeth and jaws • Performing surgical procedures on the teeth, bone and soft tissues of the oral cavity Dentists’ areas of care include not only their patients’ teeth and gums but also the muscles of the head, neck and jaw and the tongue, salivary glands and nervous system of the head and neck. During a comprehensive exam, dentists examine the teeth and gums, and they also look for lumps, swellings or discolorations — any abnormality. When appropriate, they perform procedures, such as biopsies, diagnostic tests for chronic or infectious diseases, salivary gland function and screening tests for oral cancer. In addition, dentists can spot early warning signs in the mouth that may indicate disease elsewhere in the body. Dentists’ training also enables them to recognize situations that warrant referring patients for care by dental specialists or physicians. (Please see page 3 for information about dentists’ educational and licensing requirements.) Other members of the dental team include dental hygienists, dental assistants, lab technicians and office management staff. Dental hygienists Dental hygienists use their knowledge and clinical skills to focus on preventing and treating oral diseases so as to protect teeth, gums and a patients’ total health. The registered dental hygienist or RDH credential identifies a dental hygienist as a licensed oral health professional. Duties vary, but often includes: • Reviewing patients’ health his­ and taking blood prestory sure • Taking and developing X-rays • Removing plaque from all surfaces of the teeth • Applying preventive materials to the teeth (e.g., sealants, fluoride varnish) • Teaching effective ways to brush and floss • Counseling patients about Continued on page 2... FALL/WINTER 2014 1