What Does a Dentist Do?

Dentist Las Vegas is part of a multidisciplinary team to provide patient care. This team can include dental assistants, dental hygienists, technicians, and therapists.

They also collaborate with other healthcare professionals, such as orthodontists and oral surgeons, and refer patients for specialized treatments outside their scope of practice. This demonstrates that they value patient health above all else.

Dentists must be able to manipulate teeth, gums, and other oral tissues while managing patients’ anxieties. They should also be able to explain the nature of problems and describe potential treatment options. They should also be able to identify other health conditions, illnesses, and systemic diseases that may manifest in the mouth.

Dental procedures are primarily performed in a dentist’s office or clinic, usually equipped with dental chairs, examination tables, X-ray machines, and sterilization equipment. Some dentists also provide care in community health centers and hospitals; a few work as educators or researchers at academic institutions.

In addition to a variety of preventive procedures, such as cleanings, exams and the placement of sealants on children’s teeth, most dentists offer restorative treatments, including fillings, root canals, dental implants and the fitting of crowns or bridges. They can also perform some oral surgery, such as removing wisdom teeth and treating periodontal disease.

Some dentists specialize in one of three monospecialties:

  • Endodontics focuses on the aetiology, diagnosis and treatment of the nerve tissue found inside a tooth, its roots and surrounding structures.
  • Periodontics is devoted to treating gum disease.
  • Prosthodontics handles missing or defective teeth and jaws.

Others focus on specialized areas, such as oral medicine (the study of the diagnosis and non-surgical management of patients with disorders of the oral and maxillofacial regions) and dental public health.

Regardless of their specialization, most dentists receive a significant degree of satisfaction from the work they do. This is especially true after the first 10 years of practice, when they’ve established a client base, built up a range of experience and expertise and are earning substantial incomes.

Personal Care

Unlike most health care professionals, general dentists are uniquely oriented toward the prevention of disease. By placing a strong emphasis on dental hygiene and health, they help patients avoid the progression of oral diseases that, if left untreated, may cause pain, loss of work or school time and cost billions of dollars each year in lost productivity. They also play a significant role in encouraging the integration of oral and overall health, providing nutrition and lifestyle advice that may prevent disease in other parts of the body.

In addition to examining teeth, gums and jaws, dentists take X-rays, administer sealants and fluorides and teach clients about proper oral hygiene practices and dietary habits. They may also recommend and supply products such as mouthwash, toothpaste and toothbrushes to maintain good oral health. In many cases, a patient will visit a dentist twice a year for routine dental examinations and cleanings.

Like other healthcare professionals, dentists must deal with the potential for malpractice lawsuits and professional liability claims. They are also subject to the same workplace pressures and stress that can lead to burnout in any profession. These include the need for perfection and a siloed work environment that places responsibility for success on the shoulders of individual practitioners.

Some Medicare-covered services are provided by dentists, but only when they are deemed medically necessary and cost-effective. For example, dentists are permitted to examine a kidney transplant recipient’s mouth before hospitalization for a procedure such as a dialysis or a hemodialysis treatment to help identify ulcerations or areas of tissue breakdown that might create a route for bacteria to enter the bloodstream and cause infection (HCFA Carriers Manual, section 2136). Medicare only covers this service if it is performed in the hospital, but not if it is provided by a physician outside the hospital.


A patient-centered communication approach is essential to a successful dental practice. It builds trust, encourages cooperation, promotes empathetic understanding of patients’ unique situations, and helps foster patient accountability. This interpersonal communication also ensures that dental teams are attuned to each other’s needs and can resolve conflicts constructively.

A good dentist listens intently to their patients’ concerns, even if the patient is not comfortable sharing them. They are aware of the patient’s non-verbal cues and attempt to create a safe space for the discussion, especially when discussing challenging topics such as oral surgery or recommended treatments. A good dentist addresses any doubts and fears that the patient may have and explains their reasoning clearly. This approach is particularly effective for addressing patient resistance to dental treatment, as it shows the dentist cares about their patients’ experience and well-being.

The importance of dental staff’s communication skills has been recognized for decades, yet this type of training is not prioritized in most dental schools. A lack of proper communication skills in the workplace can lead to frustration and resentment amongst both patients and colleagues, which is a destructive coping mechanism that contributes to clinician burnout.

Some of the factors that have been found to influence a dentist’s communication skills are age, gender, and education level. For instance, female dentists demonstrated significantly higher communication scores compared to their male counterparts. In addition, educational level had a positive impact on some of the communication skills items. However, participant dentists cited various obstacles that prevented them from considering courses for improving their communication skills with the patients, including limited time and thinking that such courses are costly. This demonstrates that further research is needed to understand the factors that influence a dentist’s communication with their patients.

Listening Skills

Dentists should make every effort to connect with patients beyond the dental chair. While this may seem like a waste of time in today’s production-driven climate, listening to patients can help build trust and strengthen the patient-dentist relationship. A compassionate approach to dentistry is vital to ensure patients say “yes” to care.

Active listening is one of the most important skills for a dentist to have. It involves fully focusing on the patient and paying attention to both verbal and non-verbal cues. It also includes paraphrasing the speaker’s words to show you are truly listening and making an effort to understand. This type of listening enables you to better communicate with your patients, as well as understand their needs and concerns.

During the consultation process, it is important to give each patient your full attention. This means avoiding distractions, such as phones or emails, and maintaining eye contact. You can also demonstrate you are engaged in the conversation by leaning forward or slanting your head. In addition, it is a good idea to minimize noise and other external interruptions to avoid interrupting your patients or causing them anxiety.

While people are usually comfortable opening up to their hair dressers, bartenders or the person sitting next to them on a plane, talking to a dentist can be intimidating. It’s easy for a patient to interpret your inability to listen as a lack of interest, empathy or incompetence.

To help your patients feel at ease, try to avoid jargon and explain procedures in a way that makes sense to them. In addition, if you have noticed your patient’s emotional state change during a visit, ask them how their experience is and offer supportive comments.


Dentists are doctors who specialize in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases and conditions affecting the oral cavity, including the teeth, gums, jaws, and soft tissues. They also provide advice and services on related issues, such as the development and maintenance of good oral hygiene. Unlike some medical specialties, dentists generally practice in private practice, although a growing number are entering group practices to cut costs and focus on preventive dentistry.

After graduating from dental school, a new dentist may apprentice with an established practitioner for several years, and then either leave to start their own practice or buy into the existing business. About a quarter of dentists own all or part of their own practice, according to the ADA’s 2023 survey of dental practice.

The Academy of General Dentistry is an international, non-profit organization founded in 1952 “to serve the needs and represent the interests of general dentists and to foster their continued proficiency through quality continuing education so they can best care for the public.” The Academy provides a variety of educational resources to help consumers make informed dental health choices and offers a national, toll-free consumer hotline to answer questions about dentistry.