638 N. Independence Blvd.
Romeoville, IL 60446
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Dental Hygienists and Dental Assistants: What’s the Difference?

Do you know the difference between a dental hygienist and a dental assistant? We’ve got both on our staff and can help clear up the confusion.

If you’re not sure about the difference between a dental hygienist and a dental assistant, you’re not alone. People often confuse the two jobs. That’s partly because we’re always helping each other out in the office. In the short time you’re here, it could be difficult to tell. But there are a few key differences that you should know, especially if you or your kids have an interest in pursuing a career in the dentists’ office!

About the Dental Assistant Job

To begin with, you could get started as a dental assistant in less than a year by earning a certificate “through academic programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes, universities or dental schools,” according to the American Dental Association (ADA)

Dental assistants are vital staff members who help keep everything in the office clean, comfortable, and efficient. They are often the first person patients encounter when they come for a visit. Their job responsibilities include supportive functions from sterilizing the dental instruments and taking x-rays to teaching patients about proper oral hygiene and handling office management. 

These essential professionals also often help dentists and hygienists during many treatment procedures, but they do not perform direct patient treatments themselves.

About the Dental Hygienist Job

The differences between dental hygienists and dental assistants start at school. To become a hygienist, you need to earn an Associate or Bachelor’s Degree in dental hygiene. That means at least two years of college. Many hygienists start their careers as assistants, then go on to earn their degrees to become a hygienist. 

The person who actually cleans your teeth, removes tartar and plaque, and administers fluoride treatments is a dental hygienist. They also make sure to collect information about your medical and oral health history, make molds of patients’ teeth, chart dental conditions, and even administer local anesthesia when needed.

There is usually some overlap in the duties of dental hygienists and dental assistants. That’s partly because, also according to the ADA on the topic of dental hygienist duties, “each state has its own specific regulations regarding their responsibilities, [and] the range of services performed by hygienists varies from state to state.” For us, it’s also because we’re all here for our patients, so any job we’re qualified to do, we’re happy to do!

Learning More about Romeoville Dental Center Hygienists and Assistants

As you may know, we’ve started sharing Staff Q&A blog posts to help you get to know us a bit better. This month, we kick off the hygienist interviews with Gayle Joyce.

We hope you know you don’t have to wait for your appointment to get to know us. You can contact us anytime. 

To schedule your visit now, fill out this form, or call our office at 815-886-0875.

 

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