|This article does not cite any references or sources. (December 2007)|
A dental auxiliary is any of the dentist's supporting team who helps with dental treatment. They include dental assistants (known as dental nurses in the United Kingdom and Ireland), dental therapists, dental hygienists and dental technicians. The role of dental auxiliaries is usually limited by regional dental regulations, which help define the boundaries of treatment that can be performed.
Dental assistants (or dental nurses) help make dental treatment more efficient by assisting the dental care provider. They hold and pass instruments, retract tissues and apply suction to assist better vision of the operating field. They also mix materials, help maintain dental records, and sterilize instruments and equipment. Some also engage in professional teeth whitening procedures, particularly in The Republic of Ireland where laser teeth whitening is classified as a cosmetic procedure and not dental treatment. This practice usually occurs in clinics solely devoted to laser teeth whitening and not routine dental treatment.
Dental therapists are licensed dental auxiliaries in some countries. They specialize in caring for children's teeth and oral hygiene. Local dental regulations determine the duties therapists are allowed to perform. Typically, therapists under the prescription of a dentist are licensed to examine children's teeth, administer some forms of local anesthesia, take radiographs, and provide sealants, scaling, and cleaning for children. They also may work in restoring primary teeth and administer vital pulp treatments such as pulpotomies.
Dental hygienists are licensed dental auxiliaries who specialize in preventive dental care, typically but not limited to focusing on techniques in oral hygiene. Local dental regulations determine the duties hygienists are allowed to perform. In most jurisdictions, hygienists work for a dentist and are licensed to administer some of local anesthesia. Also radiography, sealants, scaling, root planing and cleaning are common procedures performed by dental hygienists.
Dental technicians are dental auxiliaries who fabricate dental appliances: removable protheses including dentures and orthodontic retainers, and fixed restorative work such as crown and bridges for the dental operator to insert.