In a new land, it is good to know the people and how they relate to one another. The following are the natives, so to speak, of the new land of oral health care. The Oral Health Care Team is generally composed of the dentist, dental therapist, dental hygienist, dental assistant, office support staff and dental laboratory technician who work together to meet the many varied dental and orally-related needs of the dental patient.
A team of professionals provides oral health care. Typically general dentists and dental hygienists provide the first oral care. Dental assistants and dental laboratory technicians provide support for care and in some circumstances; expanded duty (function) dental assistants (EDDA or EFDA) also provide direct oral health care under the supervision of a dentist. In a few areas, new mid-level providers, such as dental therapists and dental health aide therapists, are being used to help expand access to care.
Outside of the dental profession, medical providers are also a critical component of the team of providers for oral health. Otolaryngologists, or Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) specialists, treat conditions of the head and neck including cancers of the mouth and throat. Primary medical care providers, such as physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners and physician assistants, are also assuming a greater role in identifying oral disease and helping the patient obtain the oral health care he or she needs.