The Knowledge Nook

Differences Between A Dental Assistant and a Dental Hygienist

Posted by Tami Russell on Feb 4, 2016 12:19:24 PM

dental_assistant.jpg

If you’re looking into the dental industry as a profession, you’re probably aware of the different positions that make up a typical dental office.  Two of the key jobs on a dentist’s team include the dental assistant and the dental hygienist.  While the two positions may sound somewhat similar, there are some distinct differences between the two of them.  Here’s how they break down:

Education
This is a key difference between the two positions.  If you’re interested in becoming a dental assistant, you need to complete a dental assisting certificate program from an registered program and pass the state exam.  The minimum educational requirement for a dental assistant is a high school diploma. On the other hand, a dental hygienist will need to have a degree (associate, baccalaureate, or masters) and will need to acquire a license to practice.

For more information on the requirements for dental assistants and hygienists in the state of Texas, visit The Texas State Board of Dental Examiners.

Duties
As a dental assistant, your job will include tasks such as appointment scheduling, administrative work, fluoride treatments, chart/records tracking, fee collecting, and patient education.  When you visit the dentist, you’ve probably seen someone select the proper tools for the appointment and hand those tools to the dentist when needed.  A dental assistant is the person responsible for those duties.

As a dental hygienist, your tasks will include oral examinations, radiographing, patient history assessments, tartar/plaque removal, and teeth polishing.  This position is less of a general supportive/administrative job, and plays a larger role in the health of a patient’s teeth and gums.

Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field of dental hygienists is expected to grow by as much as 19% by 2024.  The growth of the dental assistant field has been projected to grow by 18% between now and 2024.  Both of these growth rates are higher than the national average.

Salary
There is a significant difference between the salary of a dental hygienist and a dental assistant.  An assistant’s salary averages $35,000 a year, whereas the hygienists are likely to make closer to $71,000 a year.

Topics: dental assistant

About PDI

Learning Is For Life

PDI - The Professional Development Institute of the University of North Texas - is dedicated to your desire to never stop learning!  "The Knowledge Nook," our blog designed to share best practices, trending topics and other tidbits of information, is a tool to help you as you plot your career path. If you have specific questions, blog topic ideas or comments on particular topics, please let us know! We look forward to learning together.

Find out what PDI can do for you! Learn more today about:

  • Paralegal
  • Dental Assistant
  • Crime Scene Investigation
  • Private Investigations
  • Human Resources
  • Energy
  • General work trends

Subscribe to Email Updates