It’s important to know who you and your child will meet at a dental visit. People who work in a dentist's office are usually friendly and they are there because they care about keeping your child’s teeth and gums healthy.
Here are some of the different types of people you will meet when you visit the dentist's office.
The receptionist is often the first person you meet. She or he may be the person you spoke to on the phone to make your appointment, and might also be sitting close to the waiting room to greet you when you come in. She may ask you to fill out some forms, or may simply take your child’s name and ask you to wait until the dental hygienist is ready to see your child.
The Dental Assistant
A dental assistant can have many different roles at the dentist's office. He or she may do some of the same things that the receptionist does, such as making appointments and taking new patient information.
A dental assistant may also bring your child into the exam room and lay out the tools the dental hygienist or dentist might need for the visit. The dental assistant may be there to hand instruments to the dentist during an exam, or take x-rays when they are needed.
The Dental Hygienist
A dental hygienist is a person who is specially trained to clean and polish teeth, check for signs of gum/oral disease, take x-rays, floss between teeth, and give you advice about healthy habits for your mouth. She or he will wear gloves, glasses, and a mask to protect the hygienist and your child from sharing germs during the gentle exam and cleaning. When your child is finished, the dental hygienist will usually give your child a new toothbrush and some floss to take home. Next, the dental hygienist will call the dentist in for an exam.
The dentist is a person who knows all about keeping mouths healthy – she or he is the doctor for your child’s mouth. While wearing gloves, a mask and glasses like the hygienist does, the dentist will do a gentle exam, look at any x-rays that might have been taken, and look for cavities or other signs of trouble. If there is a cavity, you and your child will need to go back to have the dentist fill it. If your child's teeth are healthy, the dentist will ask you to come back in six months for another cleaning and check-up.
When the visit is over, many dentists have a special prize drawer that your child can open to choose a special prize for a job well done!