Have you been to the dentist recently? The American Dental Association recommends that people visit the dentist frequently. These visits should be individualized by your dentist. Some people may need to be seen by their dentist yearly. Others may benefit from 6 months or less. An individualized approach is best when it comes to oral health. At your last dental visit you may have noticed several people busy around the office. There was probably a receptionist and, of course, a dentist. But there were also a few others that helped out during your visit; a dental assistant and a dental hygienist. So what is a dental assistant vs dental hygienist? Let’s take a closer look.
Dental Assistant vs Dental Hygienist
Dental assistants and dental hygienists have a few things in common. They both work closely with a dentist. They both help care for peoples teeth. They also help educate patients about oral health. They may appear similar, but there are actually many differences. A dental assistants main job is to assist the dentist. They can also help with a variety of office jobs. The main job of a dental hygienist is to clean teeth. They work directly with the patient while an assistant works more closely with the dentist. Let’s take an even closer look at a dental assistant vs dental hygienist.
Dental Assistant Responsibilities
A dental assistant can have many jobs in the office. Their work often starts before you even enter the office. A dental assistant will prepare the room before you arrive. This includes sterilizing all dental instruments and laying them out for the dentist. They are usually the first person to greet you once you are seated in a chair. They will take and develop x-rays before you see the dentist. They can also take impressions. During your appointment they will assist the dentist and pass instruments to him. The assistant will also prepare anesthetics, cement, and impression materials. The dental assistant can also help maintain dental records and patient health history. At the end of your appointment they can help with front office tasks like scheduling appointments and taking payments. Even after you have left the office a dental assistant is still busy. They will clean the room and prepare it for the next patient. They will also prepare any lab work and can help order dental supplies. In some states dental assistants can have advanced duties such as applying sealants and fluoride, topical anesthetic and coronal polishing. A dental assistants work is never done. They are always busy doing the many jobs it takes to keep a dental office running.
Dental Hygienist Responsibilities
The responsibilities of a dental assistant vs dental hygienist are actually very different. While the dental assistant can have many jobs around the office, the dental hygienist has one main job. They focus on cleaning your teeth. A dental hygienist works one-on-one with you during a teeth cleaning. First they will review your dental and medical history. They will perform an exam of your mouth. Then they will work to clean your teeth. There are many techniques that can be used to clean teeth. They will use one or more of these to remove any deposits from your teeth. They will also clean off any plaque or tartar that has developed. Then they will polish and floss your teeth. Finally they will apply any fluoride treatments that are needed. Once your cleaning is finished the dentist will come in for his exam and evaluation.
Each person in a dental office has an important job. Dental assistants can help out the dentist and office wherever it is needed, while a dental hygienist focuses mainly on cleaning the patients teeth. Schooling for a dental hygienist can be lengthy while a dental assistants schooling is much shorter. The American Institute of Dental Assisting offers a unique, hands on experience. In just 13 weeks you can be fully trained to be a dental assistant. Check out what students love about our school!