What are the Different Responsibilities of a Dentist?

Dentists perform procedures including tooth fillings and extractions.
Dental hygienists are typically responsible for cleanings.
A dentist may be responsible for performing tooth extractions.
Dentists can perform cosmetic and aesthetic procedures, in addition to helping the patient maintain proper dental and oral health.
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  • Written By: Rebecca Partington
  • Edited By: Lucy Oppenheimer
  • Last Modified Date: 11 December 2014
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The responsibilities of a dentist are varied. Not only does a dentist owe duties to his or her patient, but to his or her profession and the public generally as well.

The primary responsibility of a dentist is to provide oral care to his patients. This care includes providing preventative care in the form of patient education on tooth, gum, and mouth care. While a dentist typically does not conduct the routine cleanings that their patients receive — that is a job typically reserved for the dental hygienist — a dentist is responsible for examining the teeth, gums and mouth as well as a performing a variety of dental procedures including, but certainly not limited to, tooth extractions and fillings. Dentists who specialize in oral surgery or cosmetic dental care, can perform additional services for their patients, and along with that comes even more responsibility to ensure proper care for their patients. Dentists are often also responsible for properly training and supervising his or her staff as well.

The responsibilities of a dentist extends to the dental profession. In the United States, this is outlined by American Dental Association's Principles of Ethics and Code of Professional Conduct. This code primarily works to guide dentists to uphold a certain level of trust, accuracy, authority, and responsibility to their patients. Additionally, like medical doctors (MDs), dentists are required to comply with continuing education requirements imposed by their state.


Related to professional responsibilities are the responsibilities of a dentist that pertain to the public as a health care provider. This responsibility is broader in reach than the responsibility to individual patients, as public attitudes toward dental care can hugely affect the quality of an individual's oral care. One such responsibility is to provide dental care to all possible members of the public. Ideally, this would include providing dental care to individuals who cannot afford it, but unfortunately this does not always happen due to the expense of dental insurance.


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Post 21

My boyfriend just visited his dentist in Ottawa and now he is saying that's what he wants to do with his life. I just wanted him to understand the responsibilities he would be taking on.

Post 20

@JaneAir - It does take awhile to become a dentist, that's true. However, from what I understand dentists make very good money. So if you can make it through all those years of school and don't mind working in people's mouths, it seems like a pretty good job to me.

Post 19
I definitely do not envy the job of a dentist. I would not want to spend my entire day poking around inside people's mouths. I read somewhere that the mouth is actually the dirtiest part of the human body. I know dentists wear gloves, but accidents can happen.

If you accidentally knick your glove with one of your tools, you could catch all kind of diseases. Plus, dentist education takes a fairly long time. I don't think I'd want to be in school for that long.

Post 18

@Ted41 - That's terrible, but it doesn't surprise me at all. That's what happens when healthcare becomes big business. You should write a dentist review of your dental practice on one of those website where you can review healthcare providers. It won't help what happened in the past, but you may be able to hurt their business a little bit.

Post 17

Here in the US, I'm always struck by the fact that a lot of people do not have access to health care, especially dental care. As the article said, dentists should provide dental care to everyone. However, I've noticed that most dentists are only out for the money.

For example, I have dental insurance I pay for myself, as I'm a freelancer. I had to have a crown awhile ago, and my share of the cost was around a thousand dollars. My dentist would not complete the crown until I paid for it, so I had to wait and it got worse while I was trying to get the money together.

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