Meet Your Oral Health Care Team

There are many professionals on the health care team who help you take care of your oral health. Each member of the team has a unique and important role to play. This glossary will help you differentiate between each of these oral health professionals and better understand what they do.

Dental Receptionist

A dental receptionist is the team member who is responsible for greeting and assisting you when you arrive at the clinic. Dental receptionists also look after billing clients and their insurance companies, maintaining client accounts, and coordinating the dental team’s schedules.

Dental Assistant

A dental assistant is the team member who prepares you for treatment, assists other oral health professionals during treatment, processes instruments to ensure infection control standards are met, and maintains dental equipment. A dental assistant may also take x-rays, prepare dental materials, manage dental records and, in some provinces, polish teeth and apply fluoride treatments.

Dental Hygienist

A dental hygienist assesses your oral health by examining your teeth, gums, and mouth, taking x-rays, and performing oral cancer screenings. A dental hygienist will then provide appropriate clinical therapy, including removing calculus, plaque, and stain, and applying fluoride and sealants to help prevent and stabilize cavities. In some provinces, dental hygienists can prescribe medications. Dental hygienists also offer oral health education and instruction to help you maintain good oral hygiene habits at home.

Examples of dental hygienists in action


A dentist is a doctor specializing in oral health whose role includes diagnosing oral diseases and conditions, recommending treatment plans to maintain or restore the teeth and gums, and performing surgical procedures like tooth extractions and biopsies.

General dentists can treat most oral conditions but may choose to refer you to a dentist with additional training in the management and treatment of specific oral problems. Here are some examples of dental specialists.


An endodontist specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of pain and diseases of the tooth nerve and blood vessels. Endodontists perform root canal procedures.

Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon

An oral & maxillofacial surgeon specializes in reconstructive surgery (primarily the mouth and jaw) for the treatment of facial trauma and disease or the correction of birth defects. These specialists also place dental implants and remove wisdom teeth.


An orthodontist specializes in correcting crooked teeth and bite problems that may cause pain, discomfort or difficulty chewing and speaking.

Pediatric Dentist/ Pedodontist

A pediatric dentist or pedodontist specializes in providing dental care to children and adolescents.


A periodontist specializes in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of gum disease, and in the placement of dental implants.


A prosthodontist specializes in replacing missing teeth and restoring damaged teeth using artificial substances such as veneers, bridges, dentures, and implants.

Dental Therapist

A dental therapist provides basic clinical, restorative, and emergency oral care. Common procedures include placing dental fillings and stainless-steel crowns, as well as extracting teeth.


A denturist designs, fits, and adjusts partial and complete dentures for people who are missing some or all of their natural teeth.

Your oral health care team is committed to ensuring that you enjoy optimal oral health at every stage of life. Together, you can protect your teeth, gums, and mouth from decay and disease. Schedule an appointment with your oral health care professional today.

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