A dentist examines, diagnoses and treats oral diseases and conditions. This includes gum disease and tooth decay, but also jaw problems and other systemic ailments that manifest in the mouth. Dentist can practice general dentistry or choose to specialize in one of nine dental specialties.
What Does a Dentist Do?
Often, the best dentists are skilled communicators who educate their patients about ways to preserve their healthy teeth and gums. They’re alert to the early signs of swollen gums or bleeding teeth, and they help their patients avoid expensive procedures — such as root canal therapy or extraction — that can result from neglecting oral hygiene.
In addition, a dentist’s job requires good manual dexterity and an eye for detail. Since a dentist’s work involves cutting and shaping teeth in fractions of millimeters, precision is key. A dentist also needs to understand medical history and be aware of potential drug or other medical contraindications that might interfere with a patient’s treatment plan.
Because the dentist’s office can be a somewhat intimidating environment, good communication skills are also important. When a patient arrives for an initial appointment, the dentist should take the time to collect information about medications (even over-the-counter ones) and health history. They should explain procedures in terms that the patient can understand, and they should be willing to answer any questions. Also, a dentist’s practice should be clean and the equipment sterilized, and the prices should be reasonable. Patients may be more hesitant during the COVID-19 pandemic, so it’s even more crucial to find a dentist who puts their patients at ease and can make them feel confident that they’ll receive quality care.