What Does a Dentist Do?

Dentists diagnose and treat oral health care problems for patients. Routine work involves performing checkups on patients who come in for visits. During checkups, dentists identify any areas of concern and recommend follow-up procedures or care when necessary.

Filling cavities and repairing cracked teeth are among the more standard treatment procedures dentists perform. Dentists use various equipment and tools to perform such procedures. Dentists also add sealants and whitening treatments. They straighten the teeth of patients who have overbites, underbites or crooked teeth. For some of these procedures, dentists administer anesthesia to mitigate the discomfort of the patient.

Dentists review the X-rays that are taken periodically or as needed. They look for oral health problems and refer patients to specialists for additional treatment when necessary. Dentists also mold models or devices worn by patients for mouth or teeth alignment.

After treatment, the dentists may prescribe medications to minimize post-operative pain and protect against infections. Dentists also communicate post-operative instructions for home care following treatment. This care may include mouth rinsing, changing gauze and using over-the-counter pain medications.

When checking patients during routine visits, dentists also offer advice on proper oral health care, cleaning and disease-prevention practices. Some dentists also own their practices and engage in operational activities such as hiring personnel, keeping books and making business decisions.