Dental Assistant vs Dental Hygienist

Dental Assistant vs Dental Hygienist

What is the difference between a dental assistant vs dental hygienist? Many people wonder this when strolling through a dental office. It can be hard to tell the difference between the two when their outfits are so similar but indeed there are some notable distinctions. For the most part a dental hygienist is a higher position in the office than a dental assistant due to more schooling. Dental hygienists usually require an associate’s degree and a license while most dental assistants only need a certificate or in some cases no formal training at all.

On one hand dental assistants are more focused around making the dental procedure more efficient by supporting the dentist. To do this a typical day can include preparing and sterilizing equipment, preparing patients for treatments, assisting during procedures, record keeping, scheduling appointments, office management, taking x-rays, and providing instructions to patients. An assistant’s job is a balance of clinical and administrative work.

On the other hand a hygienist usually works to clean, maintain, and examine teeth and gums. They spend more time in the dental room doing clinical tasks rather than administrative work. Taking x-rays, removing plaque, looking for gum disease, applying sealants, and administering fluoride to teeth are common responsibilities. A hygienist spends more time dealing with teeth.

Dental assistants:

  • Work with patients before, during, and after procedures
  • Help the dentist any way they can during the dental treatment
  • Take and develop x-rays
  • Office management
  • Greet and comfort patients
  • Seat patients and schedule appointments
  • Sterilize and prepare tools
  • Handle billing and order supplies
  • Take impressions of teeth
  • Teach patients good hygiene and instructions

Dental hygienists:

  • Collect patient’s medical history
  • Clean teeth, such as removing tartar, plaque, and more from patient’s teeth
  • Make molds of patient’s teeth
  • Record dental conditions
  • Apply fluoride and sealants
  • Administer anesthetics
  • Remove sutures and dressings
  • Teach patients good hygiene and instructions

Those are the most notable differences between a dental assistant vs dental hygienist. More people tend to opt for dental assisting as it requires minimal education. On the other hand dental hygiene school can be quite time consuming and expensive but can result in a higher salary. But what is great about dental assisting is that one can take a peek at how the office works. They can then decide later on whether dental assisting is right for them or whether advancement is a better option.