What’s The Difference Between A Dentist And A Dental Hygienist?

Difference Between A Dentist And A Dental Hygienist

Dentists and dental hygienists both have an important part to play in taking care of people’s oral health, but they have different educational requirements, job duties, and salaries. In this article, Wolter Advanced Dental Care will explain the different roles that dentists and dental hygienists have.

What Is A Dental Hygienist?

A dental hygienist is an oral health specialist who works with patients before they are examined and evaluated by a dentist. Dental hygienists perform important steps in getting people ready for their procedures and exams. Dental hygienists often perform x-rays, clean patients’ teeth, remove plaque, and polish teeth. These oral health professionals can also check for signs of oral disease. In addition, dental hygienists advise patients on how best to prevent tooth and gum disease and advise on preventive measures such as regular brushing and flossing.

What Is A Dentist?

Once you see your dental hygienist the person you will see after is usually the dentist. Dentists are medical professionals who practice dentistry, including studying oral health and diagnosing and treating oral diseases. Dentists also deal with dental restorations, extractions, and dentures. They provide intensive care to patients through regularly scheduled checks, cleanings, and guidance. They also educate patients so they can maintain their oral health between visits.

Dentists Vs Dental Hygienists

Both dentists and dental hygienists provide important dental care, and patients can expect to interact with people from both professions when they visit the dentist. However, there are important differences between the two professions. Here are the key differences between a dentist career and a dental hygienist career:

1. Academic requirements: In order to become a dentist, one must first obtain a bachelor’s degree. Those aspiring to be dentists can take basic courses in chemistry or biology, or pursue a pre-med program. After passing the Dental Admission Test (DAT), they must complete a four-year program at a dental school. Upon finishing all the requirements, they will receive either a Doctor of Dental Medicine (DDS) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree. New graduates of dental school must then pass a series of state-administered licensing exams in order to obtain the proper licensure and be able to practice dentistry.

To become a dental hygienist, you must earn an associate degree and be licensed by the state. Dental hygienists can be trained through professional dental hygiene programs offered by community colleges, technical schools, four-year institutions, or dental schools. These courses require a high school diploma or GED as a prerequisite. Some dental hygienists choose to expand their expertise with a bachelor’s degree. Regardless of the degree type, courses may cover dental anatomy, biomedical sciences, periodontology, preventive oral hygiene, and disease prevention.

2. Core Tasks and Responsibilities: While both dental hygienists and dentists have responsibilities related to patient care, their primary responsibilities differ. Dentists are able to provide more qualified treatment, while dental hygienists take care of general dental care. Typically, a dentist’s job is to detect, diagnose and treat tooth decay and gum disease. They often administer local anesthesia for basic procedures and may prescribe medication. Dental hygienists support dentists in cleaning their teeth and advise patients on proper oral hygiene and care. While they can’t perform surgery or advanced procedures, they can help dentists with this treatment.

Dentists and dental hygienists are not the same and they are not interchangeable. Your oral hygiene is an integral part of your overall health and each one plays a crucial role. Due to the nature of their roles, you may only visit your dentist occasionally, but you will need to see a dental hygienist regularly. 

If you are looking for a dental hygienist and/ or dentist near Chambersburg, PA Wolter Advanced Dental Care is ready to help you achieve your dream smile with restorative, general, and cosmetic dentistry. Call 717-496-9093 to make an appointment with our experienced team.