Dentistry

Dentists restore and maintain dental health by diagnosing and treating, operating on, or prescribing for any disease, pain, injury, deformity or physical condition of the oral and maxillofacial area. In general, this means the teeth, gums, jaws, and other areas of the head and neck as long as the mouth is involved. Under the supervision of a dentist, dental hygienists provide treatment to prevent cavities and gum diseases.

Dentists and dental hygienists must be licensed by the Board of Regents to practice in New York State. As part of a dental delivery team, only dental hygienists and dentists may perform the following services:

  • apply topical medications and cavity-preventing agents, like sealants, fluorides and topical anesthetic agents to your teeth
  • place and remove periodontal dressings, temporary restorations
  • counsel you on the importance of good nutrition for oral health
  • perform such monitoring procedures as reviewing your health history, taking your blood pressure, and maintaining your dental chart
  • remove tartar (calculus) and plaque from your teeth below and above the gum line
  • polish teeth, including existing restorations
  • teach proper hygiene techniques for your teeth and gums and develop individual at-home oral hygiene programs
  • all services that may be performed by dental assistants

Dental assistants perform a variety of support functions; those who elect to become licensed as New York certified dental assistants may also perform these services as part of a dental delivery team under the direct, personal supervision of a dentist:

  • provide patient education
  • take preliminary medical histories and vital signs for review by a dentist
  • place and remove rubber dams, matrix bands, ligature ties and temporary separating devices
  • remove orthodontic arch wires, periodontal dressings, and temporary cement (not including temporary fillings)
  • select and prefit temporary crowns and orthodontic bands
  • take impressions for study casts, diagnostic casts, space maintainers, orthodontic appliances, and occlusal guards (guards that prevent grinding of the teeth)
  • remove stitches placed by a dentist
  • apply topical cavity-preventing and desensitizing agents to the teeth

Dental assistants who do not perform these services do not need a license.

Read more about this profession.

Last Updated: December 3, 2009