Difference Between Dental Hygienist and Dental Assistant

The dental offices have mixed staff, doctors, hygienists, and assistants. The two most crucial staff is dental hygienists and dental assistants.


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Though both of them report to the doctor in the clinic as such, they have a few differences and distinctions that must be known.

Key Takeaways

  1. Dental hygienists focus on preventive oral care, performing tasks like teeth cleaning, while dental assistants support dentists with patient care and administrative tasks.
  2. Dental hygienists require more education and licensing, usually holding an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, while dental assistants may have a certificate or diploma.
  3. Dental hygienists work directly with patients to assess and maintain oral health, while dental assistants prepare patients for treatment and assist dentists during procedures.

Dental Hygienist vs Dental Assistant

Dental Hygienists are licensed oral health professionals who clean teeth, take x-rays, and provide preventive care such as fluoride treatments and verbal hygiene instructions. They have an associate degree or higher in dental hygiene and must pass a national board examination. Dental Assistants perform tasks such as sterilizing instruments, preparing materials, and assisting the dentist during procedures. They also take X-rays scans, provide patient care and education, and perform laboratory tasks.

Dental Hygienist vs Dental Assistant

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Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonDental HygienistDental Assistant
Leading Role in the Dental ClinicDental Hygienist is majorly involved in Patient care duties and assists the doctors during the treatment. The hygienist sometimes performs treatments for the patients under the doctor’s supervision.The dental assistant is responsible for patient care and office administrative work.
Educational QualificationDental Hygienists must hold an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene.Dental assistants must hold a certificate or diploma.
Level of connecting with the PatientsDental Hygienists work closely with the patients during the treatment. They may deal with the patients one on one for the treatments too. They help create records for the Patient’s visit and the treatment offered.A dental assistant is a person who receives and makes treatment plans. They may take X-rays and provide results to the Patient. They may also record patients’ visits and the treatment undergone.
Role with the DoctorDental Hygienist works closely with the doctor of the clinic to offer treatments.Dental assistants are connected and report to the doctors. However, their connection is indirect through dental office procedures.
Medical report MaintenanceDental Hygienist is the one who prepares medical reports. Based on the X-rays and treatments.The dental assistant’s job is to store the record properly for correspondence and future reference.


What is Dental Hygienist?

A dental hygienist is a certified dental professional working in a dental clinic or a hospital under the guidance of a doctor. A dental hygienist must be registered with the dental association or dental regulatory body in their place of practice.

It is expected of the dental hygienist to have completed an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene before conducting the examination. The dental hygienist works closely with the dentist of that clinic to help in the Patient’s treatment and care.

A dental hygienist can also work independently or along with a dentist to provide dental care to people. The clinical procedures of a dental hygienist are specific concerning their job role.

The dental hygienist must examine the Patient to analyze the treatment offered. They are also responsible for coaching the patients about preventive measures for proper dental hygiene.

The hygienist records all the treatments in a record maintained for future reference. The report also includes the add-ons like the X-ray data and corresponding inference of the treatment offered.

Dental hygienists belong to a team of dentists, dental therapists, and dental assistants. They can also work independently to offer proper dental care to the people.

Dental Hygienist

What is Dental Assistant?

A dental assistant is a person who is along with the dental who takes care of the office administration of the clinic. They also sometimes connect with the patients to offer treatment support to the doctors.

Their job roles differ from the others in the dental team. They do a lot of office administration and patient-wise report preparation and storage.

They are also considered the catalyst behind the efficiency of the treatment offered by the dental team. They support the doctor, the hygienist, and the therapist with the required instruments to treat the patients.

The dental assistant job role is in demand as it requires to be flexible in managing a different variety of tasks.

Their role is limited to office work and on-demand for offering Patient care advice and getting ready with the treatment area with the necessities.

The dental assistant’s job is closely connected to the dental hygienists too. The record notes about the treatment, which is again verified and recorded as a report for future use.

The most crucial role in the dental clinic is managing clinical waste. The dental assistant is the person to keeps away the waste safely to safeguard the hygiene of the hospital area.

Dental Assistant

Main Differences Between Dental Hygienists and Dental Assistants

  1. The dental hygienist works closely with the dentist to offer treatment to the patients, while the dental assistant takes care of the office administrative work and Patient care duties.
  2. The educational qualification of these professionals also differs. The dental hygienist must hold an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene, whereas a dental assistant must have a diploma.
  3. Dental hygienists are found to work closely with the patients during their treatment. They are the ones who pre-examine and analyze the treatment methods. The dental assistant also works closely with the patients in terms of report generation and also gives timely advice for their dental care.
  4. Dental hygienists work closely with the doctors during the treatment. They may also do the treatment with the help of dental assistants. The dental assistant connects with the doctor and is limited to passing the instruments and maintaining the administrative work of the dental hospital.
  5. A dental hygienist is a person who makes the report for the patients. The report is prepared from the notes taken by the dental assistant. The dental assistant also stores the report safely for future use.
Difference Between Dental Hygienist and Dental Assistant
  1. https://www.ada.org/en/education-careers/careers-in-dentistry/dental-team-careers/dental-assistant
  2. https://carrington.edu/blog/what-does-a-dental-assistant-do/
  3. https://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/aapd/pd/2004/00000026/00000005/art00008
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