What is the difference between a dental assistant and a hygienist?

difference between a dental assistant and a hygienist - shutterstock_28933951Before you begin your dental assistant training, it’s important for you to know the difference between a dental assistant and a dental hygienist. Each of these career choices have different duties and requires different education.

After receiving a degree from an accredited degree from one of many dental assistant colleges, you usually begin your career by helping the dental hygienist and the dentist. The dental assistant will often be in charge of preparing medical tools, sterilizing equipment and sometimes taking x-rays. Additionally, the dental assistant usually works with patients to help them schedule appointments and to teach them about proper hygiene for their teeth. During patient appointments, the dental assistant may work in the dental room with the hygienist or dentist, handing him or her equipment and keeping the patient’s mouth wet or dry with water or a suctioning device.

The dental hygienist completes more complex tasks, such as cleaning teeth, providing fluoride treatments and assisting in dental procedures with the dentist. The hygienist may also check teeth and gums and provide recommendations to the patient. Typically, dental hygienists are required to undergo additional training. Most states require at least an associate’s degree and state certification, while others will require a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree.

Dental assistants usually undergo training at dental assistant schools. Most programs at dental assisting schools take about a year or so to complete. There may be, however, an accelerated online college that could be more flexible with your schedule.  In some cases, the dental assistant may also undergo training with the dentist he or she is working for. Many people choose to begin their careers as dental assistants, with the option to later become a dental hygienist.

Doing a college search for dental assistant schools or dental assistant colleges? Check out popular Florida healthcare colleges or a college in any other state of your choosing. Looking for online colleges? You can search for online degrees too. For additional information, use US College Search or find us on Facebook and Twitter as well as searching by zip code.

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