Skip main navigation

Dental team: Talking heads

In this video we asked four members of the Dental Team to explain their role when providing patient care.
I’m Adrian. I’m a dentist. I’m responsible for leading the dental team and undertaking the examination and diagnosis of any oral and dental disease. I also prescribe work to be done by other members of the dental team. So x-rays can be taken by a dentist or a dental nurse. I’ll prescribe work to a therapist or a hygienist. I also request work from dental technicians who’ll make up crowns and bridges, and dentures and things to a prescription that can then be fitted. By coordinating all of this care, the idea is to improve the patient’s general oral health in a patient-centred manner for whatever is most appropriate for them. My name’s Sarah. I’m a qualified dental nurse.
I’m here to chaperone the dentist when he’s working, to health and safety, cross infection control. I’m working as part of a team, because that’s what it is. It’s a whole teamwork thing to make the patient’s experience a more happy one. If dentists need x-rays, then I’ll take their x-rays, and follow up appointments with patients, look after the patient and make sure that everybody’s happy. My name’s Jill Rushforth. I’m a dental hygienist. My role in the dental team is I treat gum disease. I also give oral hygiene instruction to help prevent gum disease. I give dietary advice, smoking cessation. I can take radiographs. I can do fissure sealants, primarily on children.
I take impressions, if needed, for study models, or if needed to record recession. I can also apply fluoride. There’s also an additional qualification called dental hygiene therapist. And what they can do, they can do exactly the same as myself, but they can go on and they can do fillings on permanent teeth, or deciduous or baby teeth. They can extract baby teeth, deciduous teeth, and they can also do pulpotomies on deciduous teeth, also. My name is Tony Johnson and I am a dental technician. My job involves making appliances that fit in patient’s mouths. There are four specialities in dentistry. Removable prosthodontics, which is dentures, partial dentures, full dentures, that sort of thing.
Fixed prosthodontics, which is where we have crowns, bridges, et cetera, which stay permanently in the patient’s mouth. Orthodontics, which is where we make appliances that straighten people’s crooked teeth, to put it in simple terms. And then maxillofacial technology, which is where we make appliances such as false noses, false eyes, false ears, and any other bits of the face that may be lost to either injury, or cancer, et cetera. Our training is usually three years, initially, where we get our basic qualification, and that’s usually done in a college situation, nowadays, although it can sometimes be done in conjunction with a dental hospital, training there, which is what I did.
And then you usually, once you’ve qualified, get your basic qualification, you would go on and specialise in one or more of the two specialities that I mentioned earlier. My specialities are the removable and the fixed prosthodontics side, and I wouldn’t ever make an orthodontic appliance or a maxillofacial appliance because I’m not really trained in that area. And you usually find that that is usually the natural split. The orthodontics and the maxillofacial technicians tend to be in one area, and the fixed and removable appliance technicians tend to be in another. So we very rarely get people who do all four specialties together. And you then go and work in a variety of different environments.
So a large number of technicians who have qualified go work in what we call a commercial sector, where they will work in a commercial dental laboratory producing various appliances. The only area that doesn’t tend to do that is the maxillofacial area, where that’s usually confined to a general hospital where you’ve got oral surgeons who will perform the operations, and then the technicians work closely with them in the hospital environment. The other areas all work either in the commercial environment, or can working in dental hospitals, where we have all the specialties catered for on the technical side.

In this video we asked four members of the Dental Team to explain their role when providing patient care. When watching the video, here are a few things to think about:

  • What defines each role?
  • Is it clear what each person does?
  • What other roles might you expect to meet during a visit to the dentist?
This article is from the free online

Discover Dentistry

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education