The Dentist's Role - ADA Legislative Action Center
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The Dentist’s Role

What is a Dentist

Dentists are doctors who specialize in oral health. Their responsibilities include:

 

  • Diagnosing oral diseases.
  • Promoting oral health and disease prevention.
  • Creating 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’ oversight of the clinical team is critical to ensuring safe and effective oral care. Even seemingly routine procedures such as tooth extractions, preparing and placing fillings or administering anesthetics carry potential risks of complications such as infection, temporary or even permanent nerve damage, prolonged bleeding, hematomas and pain.

Not Just Teeth and Gums

Dentists’ areas of care include not only their patients’ teeth and gums but also the muscles of the head, neck and jaw, the tongue, salivary glands, the nervous system of the head and neck and other areas. During a comprehensive exam, dentists examine the teeth and gums, but they also look for lumps, swellings, discolorations, ulcerations — 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.

Contact ADA Congressional Affairs

Please feel free to contact us with any questions regarding oral health. For more information about our legislative issues, visit ada.org/advocacy.

 

Chris Tampio, Director, Congressional Affairs          Megan Mortimer, Congressional Lobbyist

tampioc@ada.org, 202.789.5178                               mortimerm@ada.org, 202.898.2402

 

Jennifer Fisher, Congressional Lobbyist                    Natalie Hales, Congressional Lobbyist

fisherj@ada.org, 202.789.5160                                  halesn@ada.org, 202.898.2404

Three Dentist talking in Dental Office
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