The dental profession is a specialty of medicine that deals with the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of diseases associated with the head and soft tissues of the month as well as the superficial part of the head and neck; it involves different dental specialties and is made up of different professional teams. The professionals that make up the dental team are;
- The Dentist
- The Dental Therapist
- The Dental Technologist
- The Dental Nurses and
- The Dental Surgery Technicians.
Dentistry is a broad profession composed of many sub-specialty working hands in hand to achieve patient satisfaction.
Dental therapists and dentists are all part of the dental team but their duties vary, A dental therapist is one of the most essential parts of the dental team; they are often referred to as the mitochondria of the dental profession. They are well-trained professionals that are dealing with the non-surgical dental treatment plan (therapeutic) under-diagnosis of a registered dentist. The dental therapist spends 4 years at the university. Every practitioner has his own boundaries and limitations in dentistry, similarly, the dental therapist has their own ethical limitations as well. Although in some developed countries dental therapists used to perform some surgical procedures in children and dental restoration in adults it’s different here in Nigeria.
Below are some of the duties of a dental therapist;
- Scaling and polishing of teeth
- Application of fluoride
- Deep curettage
- Prescription of drugs
- Impression taking
- Taking and processing of x-ray
- ( In some country perform, extraction of deciduous
teeth, pulpotomy, tooth filling)
While a dentist is a medical health practitioner who undergoes six (6) years of a program followed by one year) of horsemanship and one year of NYSC (service), sit for council exam and awarded with BDS (Bachelor of Dental Surgery) or DDS(doctor of dental surgery) certificate under Medical and Dental Council in Nigeria while in another country like the UK they are licensed by the GDC ( General Dental Council). The dentist or general dental practitioner is the head of the dental team that deals with the diagnosis, and treatment, of diseases associated with the soft and hard tissues of the oral cavity as well as the superficial part of the head and neck.
Below are the common duties of a dentist;
- Diagnosis of dental diseases
- Dental treatment plan
- Dental examination
- Root canal therapy (RCT)
- Tooth extraction
- Supervision of dental staff
- Dental restoration (fillings)
The dental therapists and the dentist work together to achieve a patient’s goal which is the ultimate in the medical and dental council. Both professions respect each other’s jurisdiction and area of practice, and none encroaches on each other’s duties. Whoever practices what is not among their ethical duties as practicing quackery.