Dental Assistant vs Dental Hygienist

What is a Dental Assistant vs Dental Hygienist?
What is a Dental Assistant vs Dental Hygienist?

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

dental assistant vs dental hygienist
Dental assistants work closely with the dentist

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

dental assistant vs dental hygienist
Dental hygienists work directly with the patient

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!


3 Reasons to Consider Becoming a Dental Assistant

hands-on dental trainingDentistry is considered to be one of the 10 most trusted and ethical professions in the United States. It’s no wonder that the dental industry is so appealing to people from all walks of life. But you may not have considered the fact that you don’t have to hold a DDS to be part of this sector. In fact, becoming a dental assistant can be an incredibly rewarding and fascinating way to help others and pursue your passions. Let’s take a closer look at three reasons why you might want to consider becoming a dental assistant.

You’ll Have Flexibility and Versatility

One of the great things about attending dental school to pursue a career as a dental assistant is the amount of flexibility you’ll have. Dental assistants can find employment at a dental practice, of course, but they’re also required by specialists like oral surgeons, orthodontists, endodontists, and more. Plus, everyone needs a dentist — which means that you will be able to find work wherever you go. Whether you remain in your hometown or want to relocate clear across the country, you’ll have the skills, knowledge, and real-world experience to find gainful employment in your field.

It’s also important to note that you may benefit from having more flexible job hours and will be given a variety of responsibilities in your position. Not only will you provide the dentist or specialist with assistance during procedures, but you can also provide information and emotional support to patients who might not feel comfortable speaking to their dentist (or have an opportunity to do so). You’ll also take on some administrative tasks, which can be a great way to break up the day. Because of this, you’ll likely feel more fulfilled in your job and will be less likely to burn out due to monotony and high levels of stress.

You’ll Benefit From Hands-On Learning

Another great thing about becoming a dental assistant is the opportunity to learn in different ways. Some people choose to attend a formal dental college, while others opt for hands-on dental training on the job. You may even experience some of each. This means that no matter your preferred learning style, you’ll be able to obtain the education you need to be successful in your field. It also means you don’t necessarily need to spend years obtaining an advanced degree before getting to work. Rather, you’ll make a commitment to lifelong learning without shying away from experiences outside the classroom.

You’ll Be Working in a Growing Industry

Whether you choose to pursue hands-on dental training or attend college classes, you’ll be entering a field that’s poised for growth. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the occupational outlook for dental assistants is expected to grow by 19% from 2016 to 2016 — a rate much faster than average. The demand for preventative health services is predicted to keep increasing as more research emerges on the importance of oral health. And because we’re living longer, the need for ongoing dental care will likely increase. Dental practices will continue to expand, which means dental assistants will always be needed. So by pursuing educational courses and hands-on dental training, you will literally be making an investment in your future.

Ready to learn more about what it takes to become a dental assistant? We’re here to help. Please contact us today for assistance and additional information.

Dental Assistant Overview: What You’ll Need to Know

dental collegeAlthough countless Americans dread going to the dentist, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider a career in the dental field. In fact, you could be the reason why a patient ends up having a great experience when getting their teeth cleaned or a cavity filled. Best of all, you don’t necessarily have to attend dental college for many years before breaking into the field. If this appeals to you, you might want to consider practical dental assistant training.

But what exactly is involved in becoming a dental assistant? Do you have what it takes? We’ll go over some practical information pertaining to future dental assistants in today’s post to give you a good working knowledge of what might be required of you.

Tasks Dental Assistants Typically Perform

Some people assume that dental assistants merely provide help to the dentist or other staff members. While that’s technically part of this role, there are a lot of important tasks for which dental assistants are responsible. Those may include the sterilization of equipment, the processing of X-rays, the performance of lab testing, the scheduling of appointments, the preparation of work areas, the record-keeping of treatments, the education of patients, and the processing of bills and payments. Essentially, you may be asked to do anything from front office obligations to providing physical help to the dentist in the examination room. It means you’ll need to have a firm grasp on a lot of different areas of operations and that you won’t ever be bored with a mundane schedule.

Skills You’ll Need to Be a Successful Dental Assistant

Because the duties of a dental assistant are so varied, you’ll do well if you are well-rounded with a keen interest in learning about several different areas. You’ll also need to be detail-oriented, as you’ll need to understand complex procedures and address the needs of both patients and dentists. You’ll definitely need organizational skills as well, since you’ll be juggling a lot of different tasks and will need to keep your obligations in check. Additionally, you’ll need to be socially gifted and committed to providing a high level of service. Interacting with all kinds of people on a constant basis will require some stellar interpersonal skills. You’ll need to be friendly, communicative, patient, and understanding to be successful in your role.

Required Training, Certification, and Experience for Dental Assistants

If you want to pursue employment at a dental practice as a dental assistant, you will need to complete some formal education. Attending dental college doesn’t mean you’ll spend years as a student, however. There are plenty of hands-on dental training programs that will provide you with the skills and knowledge you need. Some states will require you to complete a specific type of program at an accredited dental college, while others necessitate on-the-job training only. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that even if your state doesn’t require degree completion, it may be within your best interests. Approximately 89% of Dental Assisting National Board Certificants report high levels of job satisfaction, and having this type of certification may make it easier to find employment and feel confident in your role. It’s important to conduct thorough research to assess what’s required and what will benefit you in the long run.

Ready to Start Your Journey in Dental School? We’re here to help you get started. For more information on our dental college and the programs we offer, please contact us today.

Looking to Get Back On Your Feet? Consider a Vocational School

dental collegeA traditional four-year college isn’t right for everyone, despite the push in the United States to send everyone to that sort of institution. For some people, a vocational school, where one can learn hands-on, applicable, practical skills is the right way to go and they can gain some real-world experience to see if it’s the best fit. In some cases, single mothers or new mothers might need training that’s done in the most efficient and impactful way, so they can get to work. From being an air traffic controller, a cosmetologist, chef, electrician, or dental assistant, vocational schools play an important role in keeping us and the things we rely on every day safe, running smoothly, and healthy. One potential profession to look into is that of a dental assistant. Society will always need dentists and dental college is a great way to get the training, job experience, and connections you need to start.

Why Go to Dental College? 
No matter which path you pursue in the field of dentistry, you’ll need to be certified and show that you have qualifications to be practicing. For someone who wants to ultimately become a dentist, they’ll need a DDS or DMD degree and be certified in a specialty. They’ll also need to complete the licensure exam for their state. Dental college can assist them with completing these steps and attaining the knowledge and experience necessary to become a dentist.

Dental colleges may also offer dental assistant training courses as well, which offers hands-on dental training and prepares students for employment at a dental practice after graduation. These programs usually take under a year (anywhere from nine to eleven months) to complete and certification from the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) have a higher salary on average, as well as other employment benefits.

Indeed, almost 90% of those who hold a DANB certificate say they have a high level of job satisfaction and 70% received a raise in their current job. They also have a high level of pride in their work, with 95% saying that they saw dental assisting as a career, not just a job. So there are many reasons getting certified from the DANB can be a smart career choice!

Why Dentistry? 
Though perhaps you hear a lot of grumbles about going to the dentist, dentistry is actually in the top 10 for the most trusted and ethical professions in the United States. There will also always be a need for dentists, orthodontists, dental assistants, and hygienists. In 2017, over 125 million adults in the United States went to the dentist.

In addition to being a respected field, dentistry also offers a good salary, and contribute positively to the health and well-being of their community. Their work can also be flexible and no matter what your job is, you work collaboratively with a team to find the best strategies and practices for keeping your patients healthy.

What Do I Need to Enroll at Dental School? 
For dental assistants, there are actually no educational requirements you need to fulfill. A high school diploma can be all you need and your expertise will come from on-the-job training. If you already have a degree, postsecondary programs can offer more comprehensive training. You’ll be focused on technical training during this program, though sometimes a two-year associate degree is also available.

At the dental school, you’ll start the steps for the appropriate licensure and certification required by your state. It’s often common for dental assistants to continue their education at various intervals at their career, to ensure that they’re staying up to date on the latest methods, techniques, and knowledge in the field.

To practice as a dental assistant, you need to have graduated from a dental assistant or hygiene program, have the equivalent of a high school diploma, and a minimum of 3,500 hours of approved work experience. It can be a wonderful new start for those who need a new career path, are interested in dentistry, and are looking to start a career, not just a job.

3 Personal Traits That Might Make You A Great Dental Assistant

dental industryWhether we know it or not, we all have affinities for certain industries. Some people are inherently good with money, making them ideal candidates for jobs as bankers or financial managers. Other people born with a knack for words and storytelling might go on to become stellar journalists or librarians.

The dental industry is no different. Though nearly anyone can become a dentist, dental hygienist, or dental assistant, some people possess personal qualities that make them especially well-suited for work in the dental industry.

If you’ve been thinking about enrolling in dental assistant training courses at a dental college, take a moment to consider your own unique strengths. If you think any of the following qualities describe you, you could be a perfect candidate for a career in dental assistance:


Dental assistants are responsible for keeping the dental clinic running smoothly before, after, during, and between appointments. Though the dentist may be responsible for performing surgeries, it’s the assistant’s job to ensure the doctor has all the information and tools she needs to get the job done. Without the dental assistant keeping processes and information organized, the clinic would certainly struggle to keep up with patient demand. If you’re good at keeping information like names, terminologies, and processes in order, you could make a great dental assistant!

Social Skills

Much of dental school and hands-on dental training involves learning to work with patients; however, having a natural ability to communicate and engage with others makes you a prime candidate for this career. All professionals in the dental industry need good social skills in order to keep patients at ease and well-informed about their oral health. After all, dentistry is considered one of the top 10 most trusted and ethical professions in America. If you know you’re an effective communicator, you could make an excellent dental assistant!


Like any medical profession, working in the dental industry involves a certain amount of stress. To get through schooling and to thrive in a clinic environment, you’ll need a good dose of determination and perseverance. Dentists and dental assistants have to handle different scenarios every day, and making a mistake in surgery or even during a regular cleaning could result in an injury. If you know you thrive in fast-paced environments that require focus and grit, dental assistance might be the career for you!

If any of these descriptions sound like your own personality, you might be the perfect candidate for dental school. To learn more about careers in the dental industry, or to get started on your new educational journey, contact us at Dental Assistant School AZ today!

Important Advantages Of Being A Dental Assistant

dental school clinicEveryone wants a job that gives them satisfaction and adds to their lives, rather than a job that detracts from their happiness. Oftentimes, you don’t know if that will be true for any given position until you’ve worked in it for a significant amount of time. If you’re considering starting dental assistant training courses, which can give you real-world experience through dental school clinics and hands-on dental training, you should know the advantages you’ll see once the training is complete.

Variety In Your Work

Unlike those who work in boring desk jobs and do the same menial tasks every day, dental assistants are always meeting new people and performing new responsibilities.

As a dental assistant, you will see new patients every day. By helping these different people day in and day out, you won’t have two days that are exactly alike. Each day, you will meet new people and help them meet their health goals by determining their unique dental needs.

Work Schedules To Fit Your Life

A great benefit of being a dental assistant is that you likely won’t have to work on the weekends or at nights. You will work when the dentist office is open, which is typically during regular business hours on the weekdays. For working parents, this type of schedule is very important. This will give you the time off that you need to spend time with and take care of your family. It will also offer a predictable schedule from one day to the next. With this predictability, you’ll be better ready for the hectic nature of the rest of your life.

Great Pay

You deserve to get the proper compensation for the work that you do, and dental assistants typically do. In Arizona in 2017, the mean annual wage of dental assistants was $39,580, according to a survey from the Occupational Employment Statistics program. Of course, the exact pay will vary depending on where you work. Many places of employment also offer benefits such as paid vacation, paid sick leave, 401(k), and paid holidays to dental assistants.

By simply attending dental assistant school, which is full of practical training and dental school clinics, you can find the perfect balance between a career you enjoy and one that gives you the pay and schedule you need. Dive into the world of dental assistants today and find the job that will finally give you professional satisfaction.

The Common Duties Of A Dental Assistant

practical dental assistant trainingThere were an estimated 7,030 employed dental assistants in Arizona in 2017, according to a survey from the Occupational Employment Statistics program. But what exactly do all of these dental assistants do? While it’s fairly obvious that they assist dentists in their practices, you may not realize every duty they perform at a dental practice. After you complete your practical dental assistant training, you will be prepared to do these daily duties that are crucial in the operation of any dental office.


A Dental Assistant’s Responsibilities


In dental school you will receive plenty of hands-on dental training, which will help prepare you for your entry into the dental industry. While this real-world experience is essential for success, you should know the common day-to-day duties that you may not always think about in practical dental assistant training.


  • Ensuring patients feel comfortable before, during, and after a dental procedure or treatment.


  • Communicating with patients and supplies over phone or email to schedule appointments or order supplies.


  • Asking about a patient’s medical history and taking their blood pressure and pulse before the dentist sees them.


  • Following surgery or other dental treatment procedures, giving patients instructions for proper oral care and health.


  • Teaching patients the tips and methods for general oral health, like flossing, brushing, and nutrition.


  • Performing various office management tasks using a computer and appropriate systems or software.


  • Preparing exam rooms for the next appointment by sterilizing and organizing instruments and materials.


  • Taking the impressions of a patient’s teeth for study casts.


  • Taking and processing any dental x-rays that a patient needs.


  • Operating suction hoses in order to keep a patient’s mouth dry and clear during dental procedures or treatments.


  • Handling any lab responsibilities that a dentist needs you to do.


Working as a dental assistant is perfect for anyone looking for a career that helps people while providing constant opportunities for learning. While practical dental assistant training will teach you the skills and techniques you need to succeed, you will continue to learn new things every day. You’ll meet patients from all different walks of life and get to know how needs vary from one person to another. The reward of a career in dental assistantship comes not only in technical skills you gain, but in the personal connections you’re able to make.

3 Reasons Why Vocational School Is A Great Choice

real-world experience

As far as education goes, there are a ton of different options in a variety of different fields. While a secondary education at a college or university might be the norm for some people, others are looking for a different kind of school. Vocational training and education are designed to prepare students for specialized occupations with technical training in the skills essential to the trade. Read on to learn why a vocational school is a great option and make a difference with your educational path.


  1. Real-World Experience

    A vocational education is all about gaining the necessary skills and techniques to succeed in the industry. Classes at a vocational school, like practical dental assistant training courses, give students hands-on dental training. These courses translate to real-world experience and give students the tools and confidence to succeed once they’ve graduated. On the other side of the interview desk, employers will be more inclined to hire someone with real-world experience because they won’t have to spend time training and teaching the methods.

  2. Allows For Flexibility

    Unlike rigid college courses and programs, vocational schools give you much more flexibility in when your courses are. Many students have families to care for or full-time jobs they need to work while they’re in school, so the courses are often in the evening or given on a part-time basis. This allows students who don’t want a traditional educational schedule to still pursue learning.

  3. Specialized Program For High-Demand Careers

    Vocational schools typically have close relationships with employers in the industry, so they know the needs of the modern marketplace. This allows them to guide students through the exact skills and techniques that employers look for when searching for new hires. Like other vocational pursuits, dental assistant training courses will prepare you for a much-needed and highly technical role. About 95% of DANB CDA Certificants state that they view dental assisting as a career rather than just a job. Once trained, you’ll not only have employment at a dental practice but a full-fledged career.


Traditional college shouldn’t be forced upon every person, because it is not going to be a good fit for just as many people as for whom it works. Vocational school is a perfect option for those who are looking for flexibility, highly technical skills, and hands-on experience from their education.

Why Hands-On Training Matters

live patient clinicsLearning by the book gives you the knowledge you need to move forward in your profession, but training courses actually get you into the thick of the action. When you go through practical dental assistant training courses, you’ll need to experience live patient clinics to become the best dental assistant you can be. Hands-on dental training is essential when learning to be a dental assistant, and these are the key reasons why.


Practice Makes Perfect


Perhaps the most obvious benefit to hands-on training is the opportunity to practice the skills repeatedly before you have to do it in the real world. When you’re training at a dental school, you’ll learn all about the technical parts of a procedure and then be able to actually apply the theories in live clinic training. Once you’re at a dental practice, you’ll feel much more confident having had hands-on training than if you were going through the motions for the first time.


Self-Critique And Peer Review


Training tools like live patient clinics can be extremely useful as they can be recorded and watched back later. Often when you’re in the moment, it can be difficult to truly analyze your movements and procedure. With the option to look back at what you did during the training, you’ll be able to see yourself from an outsider’s perspective. This will give you the valuable opportunity to improve and for your peers to offer any feedback they have.


Different Learning Styles


Researchers have known for years that people learn in a wide variety of different ways. Some people are auditory and visual learners and learn best in a classroom or by watching someone else do something. Others are kinesthetic learners, who learn best when they can move around and actually perform the activities they’re learning. For these kinesthetic learners, a dental assistant training program that only concentrates on classroom applications can be very frustrating and ultimately ineffective. Hands-on training can get these learners into the action while helping the visual learners by giving them someone else to watch.


There are approximately 270 CODA-accredited dental assisting programs in the United States, but you’ll know the best ones by whether or not they offer ample amounts of opportunities for hands-on training. Choose the dental school Mesa AZ trusts, and you’ll be on your way to live patient clinics and hands-on training in no time.

5 Important Skills Every Dental Assistant Needs

dental school clinicAt any dental practice, the dentists seem the be the star of the show, but nothing would happen without dental assistants. Dental assistants help to keep the practice’s day-to-day operations running, they help dentists see more patients each day, and they help dentists use time more efficiently, as 92.1% of responding dentists reported in a survey from the American Dental Association. When a dental assistant has these important skills, they’ll shine from a dental school clinic straight through to employment at a dental practice.



  1. Ability To Focus On Details: An effective dental assistant is expected to follow an array of rule and protocols that are in place to protect patients. To follow these rules, they must be concentrating on details. Detail-oriented dental assistants are also able to focus on the issue at hand and the best way to correct it, following through until the issue is resolved correctly. A focus on detail comes in handy in more menial, daily tasks as well that are just as important in a dental school clinic.
  2. Interpersonal Skills: A major part of being a dental assistant is interacting with patients every day. These patients may be in extreme pain or mental stress, so an assistant must be skilled at emotional sensitivity, conflict resolution, and mediation. An assistant should be skilled in both verbal and nonverbal communication in order to solve any problems at a practice.
  3. Organization Skills: A dental assistant should know how to be physically organized as well as mentally organized. Practical dental assistant training courses will help with how to best organize a dental workspace, but an assistant is often more effective when they have good time-management skills and multi-tasking abilities. All of these require an innate sense of organization.
  4. Dexterity: On a daily basis at a practice, a dental assistant will have to work in tight quarters with their hands on a very small part of the body. On top of that, an assistant has to use precise tools and instruments and this requires absolute control over their hands.
  5. Passion: Most of all, a dental assistant needs passion in order to succeed at a dental school clinic and in the real world. A love for helping patients and assisting a dental team in their practice will drive a dental assistant to be great.


A dental assistant can wear many different hats over the course of just a day while they assist a dentist, so they need to be prepared for this work with many different skills.