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Is it a dental war? Are the hygienists fighting the assistants in the dental world? Not exactly. Dental hygienist and dental assistant are actually two different types of jobs, varying in education, training, and duties. Learn more about the differences between dental hygienists and dental assistants below.

What Dental Hygienists Do

Dental hygienists must receive a degree in dental hygiene from an accredited college in order to hold this position. They work with the patient, performing duties such as:

  • Cleaning Teeth: This not only includes brushing and flossing, but stain removal, tartar scaling, and teeth polishing.
  • Tracking Patient Information: Dental hygienists will collect their patient’s medical history and also track their information concerning dental conditions.
  • Examining The Mouth: A dental hygienist probes your gums for periodontal pockets and examines teeth for decay while they clean your mouth.
  • Other Duties: Dental hygienists can also provide fluoride treatments, apply dental sealants, inject local anesthetics, remove sutures, etc.

What Dental Assistants Do

Dental assistants need either a certificate or diploma in order to hold their position. They aid the dentist on several levels and have duties such as:

  • Preparation: Dental assistants prepare you to see your hygienist and dentist by sterilizing dental instruments and taking x-rays.
  • Working With Patients: Dental assistants obtain patient records, teach about oral hygiene, and some also do billing and insurance information for the patients.
  • Aiding Dentist: This is one of the main duties of a dental assistant. They help the dentist during procedures by providing the necessary instruments.
  • Running The Office: Some dental assistants help with office management by setting up appointments and ordering dental supplies.