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Difference Between Dental Assistant and Dental Hygienist

Dental Assistant vs Dental Hygienist

In the field of dentistry and orthodontics, there are also several other professionals involved in the care of patients with teeth or oral cavity concerns aside from your well-known dentists. Two of which are the dental hygienist and the dental assistant. Because not all people pay particular attention to them, their roles and responsibilities have somewhat been confused. To help erase the cloud of misunderstanding, read on.

The DA, or dental assistant, is probably the dentist’s most important partner. With him around, the total workload of the dentist is greatly reduced. It is a must to have one nearby that is ready to work hand-in-hand with the dentist. The DA has an extensive job description. He is the one who prepares everything on behalf of the dentist so that the latter just shows up for the actual provision of dental treatment. Some of his most noticeable tasks include: prepares and sterilizes dental instruments and trays, handles the lab work, subjects the patient for an X-ray and, of course, assists the dentist throughout the actual treatment process.

Even with this big bulk of responsibility, DAs are actually not required to obtain a license to practice. Most will get a certification in as short as less than one year of training. Nevertheless, there are some licensed DAs with a more expanded role such as spearheading the application of temporary dental crowns, doing teeth polishing, and performing other related forms of dental treatments while being supervised by a dentist.

Although just considered as an optional add-on to dental practice setups, hygienists are usually present in the most successful practice settings. The DH, or dental hygienist, is the one you readily observe to be doing the note-taking work. They are responsible for periodontal charting and also play a vital role in coaching the patient on the proper dental health teachings with particular emphasis on preventive care. They are also responsible to remove the sutures and dental dressings.

DHs need to complete the recommended credits in a hygiene school, which usually spans for 2-4 years. On top of this, they are required to pass the state exam in order for them to obtain a license.

In terms of salary, DAs earn about $34,000 annually at an average although this number can go as high as $60,000 depending on the setting and expanded roles. By contrast, hygienists’ usually reach $66,000 per year according to a 2008 statistics from the Bureau of Labor. Some DHs are hired on a contractual basis depending on the demand.


1.Dental assistants are considered as the extra arm of the dentist because they assist him throughout the procedures and help prepare or clean the dental equipment.
2.Dental hygienists have more comprehensive educational and licensing requirements compared to the case of dental assistants.
3.The majority of dental hygienists earn more than dental assistants.
4.Dental hygienists focus particular attention on providing preventive care, doing health teaching, and handling the periodontal charting.

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