How Dental Assistants And Dental Hygienists Differ

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Which is better, a dental assistant or a dental hygienist? Neither, both hold equally important positions. Learn a little more about dentistry by reading about the differences between a dental assistant and a dental hygienist.


One of the main differences between a dental assistant and a dental hygienist is the amount and type of education and training required for their occupation. Dental assistants need either a certificate or diploma for their position, while dental hygienists need either an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene.

Patient Relations

Dental assistants not only teach patients about oral hygiene, but they can also collect patient records, set up appointments, and even do billing and insurance. Dental hygienists teach their patients about oral hygiene as well, but they also clean, scale, and polish the patient’s teeth.

Helping The Dentist

One of the primary duties of a dental assistant is to “assist” the dentist during procedures, providing the necessary equipment and tools. Dental hygienists can assist the dentist in this way too, but they also track dental condition and inform the dentist about any problems they noticed while examining the patient’s mouth.

Other Duties

Dental assistants not only sterilize instruments and take x-rays, but many help with office administration and the ordering of dental supplies. Dental hygienists, in contrast, do more work on a patient’s mouth such as applying pit and fissure sealants, removing sutures, and injecting local anesthetics.