20+ Difference between Dental Assistant and Dental Hygienist

It is not always simple to discern between the responsibilities of a dental assistant and those of a dental hygienist; there are times when they are blended into one another.

This is one of the reasons why it is important to have both positions. In contrast, dental hygienists may sometimes be asked to do paperwork, while dental assistants are expected to be prepared to provide patients with the most basic dental treatment available.

Comparison Between Dental Assistant And Dental Hygienist

ParameterDental AssistantDental Hygienist
DefinitionPatient care, record keeping, and appointment scheduling are just a few of the duties of a dental assistant. The specifics of their job description depend on the state’s law and the company’s needs. Assistant Dentists (DAs) assist dentists in patient care by providing administrative assistance, sterilizing instruments, and assisting with intricate procedures.While both help the dentist, the dental hygienist does several things that the dentist’s assistant can’t. They check for oral illness symptoms, treat and prevent them, and instruct patients in proper dental hygiene.
SalaryBy the year 2020, it is anticipated that dental assistants will earn a yearly median pay of $41,180. This number was arrived at using the results of a survey carried out in 2010.By the year 2020, it is anticipated that dental hygienists will bring in a yearly compensation of 77,090 dollars on average as their median pay. The greater level of remuneration that is provided to people who occupy the position of hygienist justifies the higher academic requirements that must be fulfilled to be considered for the job.
Educational requirementsDental assistants must meet a criterion that requires them to get a valid nationwide certificate. You may be required to enroll in and successfully complete a program lasting one year that culminates in awarding a certificate or degree to remain in compliance with the law in some locations.It is required of dental hygienists that they finish a training program that lasts for two years and results in the granting of an associate’s degree after their studies.
RoleA dental assistant’s primary duties involve assisting dentists and dental hygienists. Those who thrive in this position will take pleasure in using their hands while providing excellent patient care. An invaluable dental team member, a dental assistant is basically the dentist’s right hand.While both help out in the dental office, a Dental Hygienist is responsible for a few more tasks that the dentist can’t. They provide preventative care by checking for oral illness and educating patients. Additionally, they instruct patients on the best ways to care for their teeth and gums. Many high-tech instruments are used by dental hygienists in their daily work.
CertificationSome states mandate that dental assistants get certification from the Dental Assisting National Board before practicing legally as an assistant (DANB). Most medical facilities only hire applicants who can prove CPR certification.All 50 states need dental hygienists to have a valid license. To practice as a dental hygienist, you must meet the standards set by your state’s board of dental examiners. Most medical centers only hire candidates who can prove they have current CPR certification.

Major Difference Between Dental Assistant And Dental Hygienist

Who exactly is A Dental Assistant?

A dental assistant’s duties include assisting dentists and dental hygienists in patient care and administrative tasks.

From the moment a patient walks in the door, dental assistants constantly contact them. They tend to patients’ comfort, prepare treatment areas, sterilize instruments, and pass them to dentists and hygienists.

In certain jurisdictions, dental hygienists are authorized to provide limited dental care. Appointment scheduling, patient billing, and insurance coverage are just some of the administrative responsibilities that dental assistants take on.

Key Difference: Dental Assistant

  • A dental assistant’s rewarding and challenging work is a perfect example of this. They must do a wide range of duties to ensure their patient’s health. 
  • Patient care, administrative work, laboratory work, chair-side assistance, and more are all part of their job descriptions. 
  • A dental assistant’s primary responsibility is assisting dentists, hygienists, and patients. Most dental hygienists and assistants work in independent practices. 
  • The dental assistant is responsible for the patient from when they are prepared in the dentist’s chair to when they leave the office. 
  • Jobs may also be found at institutions of higher learning, hospitals, regional health units, dentistry supply firms, and so on. 
  • It all starts with graduating from an accredited Dental Assistant training program. One year is the average time needed to finish this. 
  • The most eye-popping fact about being a dental assistant is how quickly you may reach a $50,000 annual wage after completing just one year of study and training. 
  • Dental assisting is a “limited health care employment” in Canada. Dental assisting is self-regulated; however, most provinces still need a license.

Who exactly is a Dental Hygienist?

Patients are at the core of a dental hygienist’s attention. They polish teeth, examine patients for signs of oral illnesses, including gingivitis, and do basic cancer tests.

They must evaluate the state of a patient’s oral hygiene and provide a summary report to the dentist before the examination.

To encourage healthy dental habits in their patients, dental hygienists guide each person on the appropriate oral hygiene products and instruct them on how to brush and floss at home properly.

Key Difference: Dental Hygienist

  • Compared to dental assistants, dental hygienists do a significant portion of the same duties and are responsible for difficult tasks that need more training. 
  • Dental hygienists are primarily responsible for periodontal therapy, which is more often referred to as charting. They assess and record the overall oral health of their patients. 
  • Scaling, more often referred to as simply “tooth cleaning,” is another treatment that they provide in addition to preventive care for developing dental disorders. 
  • Before you can begin working as a dental hygienist, you will need to get a certificate or degree in dental hygiene from an educational facility that has been approved. 
  • This training might take anywhere from two to four years to complete, much longer than the one year necessary for dental assistants. 
  • Hygienists in a certain state, province, or territory must be registered with the dental hygiene authority in that jurisdiction. 
  • Dental hygienists who are currently employed are required by the laws of most jurisdictions to take and successfully complete several continuing education classes.
  • This is to keep their licenses current.

Contrast Between Dental Assistant And Dental Hygienist


  • Dental Assistant – This individual is responsible for various administrative and dental office tasks. They are often the first point of contact and provide support before and after dental consultations.

    When you go into the dentist’s office for the first time, the dental assistant that works there will be the one to welcome you.

    They are responsible for a wide variety of activities, some of which include ensuring that you are comfortable and getting the dental office ready for treatments.
  • Dental Hygienist – Certified dental hygienists are members of the dental health profession whose primary responsibilities include educating patients and providing preventive dental treatment.

    They cannot provide educational, clinical, or administrative services that focus on supporting your oral and general health unless they have completed an approved dental hygiene program. This allows them to provide services that promote your oral health.


  • Dental Assistant – Dental hygienists and helpers assist dentists in performing daily tasks. They may be requested to aid with suctioning and rinsing during dental treatments and taking imprints of patients’ teeth.

    Assistants in the dental field may also take patients’ X-rays and transport them from the waiting room to the operator’s chair.

    Dental assistants have various daily responsibilities, requiring them to multitask and be organized. The specifics of the job responsibilities will depend on the dentist’s office and local laws.
  • Dental Hygienist – On the other hand, dental hygienists are independent practitioners that interact directly with patients to carry out preventive care, including cleanings, oral cancer screenings, gum disease treatments, and education on caring for one’s teeth.

    Patients needing more extensive gum surgery or other operations may be referred to periodontal specialists by hygienists.


  • Dental Assistant – While some employers may provide on-the-job training, most dental assistants have completed formal training at a trade school or community college.

    If you want to work in the dental field, enrolling in a dental assisting program at a trade school is your best bet for learning the skills you’ll need and being ready to take the necessary licensure examinations in your state.
  • Dental Hygienist – To be able to work as a dental hygienist, you will need to go through the proper training to get certified.

    Post-graduate degrees, most often at the master’s level, are held by a significant portion of the dental hygiene workforce.

    The process of becoming a dental hygienist takes a great deal more time and work than the procedures involved in applying to schools for other professions and being accepted by such institutions.

Educational necessities:

  • Dental Assistant – The minimum level of formal education required of Dental Assistants varies widely from one state to the next.

    Some companies may not have formal schooling requirements and instead rely on in-house training, while others will only hire DAs who have graduated from an authorized institution and passed an exam.

    Finding several of these courses in vocational and community colleges is possible. Short-term programs may be completed in a year or less and provide certificates or diplomas.
  • Dental Hygienist – Getting an associate’s degree in dental hygiene is often required to enter the field. The average length of time to finish one of these courses is three years.

    All DHs must be licensed to practice; however, specific qualifications may differ by state. Many dental hygienists have associate degrees, while others go on to get bachelor’s or master’s degrees.

    Earning one of these degrees can be necessary to work in public or school health as a researcher, educator, or clinician.

Work environment:

  • Dental Assistant – About 354,600 jobs in the field of dental assistance was available in 2019, according to data from the BLS.

    Dentists’ offices, doctors’ offices, and the government accounted for most of their employers. Dental assistants (DAs) assist dentists and dental hygienists daily.

    They may don protective gear like goggles, masks, coats, and gloves. While many dental assistants work full-time, others may pick up shifts after hours or on the weekends.
  • Dental Hygienist – In 2019, the BLS reported that around 226,400 people were employed as dental hygienists. Similar to Dental Assistants, their top three employers consisted of dental offices.

    Dental hygienists, like DAs, must wear protective equipment such as goggles, face masks, and gloves while doing their duties. Many DHs, in contrast to Dental Assistants, work only sometimes.

    This is because several dentists only engage hygienists for part-time, occasional shifts. As a result, a dental hygienist may split their time between many practices.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1. Who was the first person to work as a dental assistant?

Because of the expansion of his business, Dr. Kells needed extra assistance and decided to recruit a young woman called Malvina Cuerina to work as his official assistant.

Malvina is widely regarded as the first dental assistant. She maintained her involvement in the dentistry community throughout her life and was acknowledged for her contributions to the industry when she was in her 80s.

Q2. What is not often one of a dental assistant’s primary responsibilities?

As part of their job responsibilities, dental assistants assist both patients and dentists with a variety of tasks, including but not limited to checking patients in, escorting them to their rooms, and preparing them for procedures such as cleanings, fillings, extractions, root canals, and other similar procedures.

This guarantees that patients will get the greatest degree of dental treatment that is humanly feasible.

Q3. In your experience as a dental assistant, have you encountered any particularly interesting aspects of the job?

You can make this component of your job both instructive and aesthetic at the same time, thanks to your creative abilities.

Providing patients with information about diet and nutrition, teaching the correct technique to brush and floss their teeth, and establishing appointments for patients’ following visits may be some of the most enjoyable elements of your job.

Q4. How was oral hygiene practiced in years gone by?

People throughout the middle ages used rough linen towels to clean their teeth by pressing them and their gums together.

We offer a variety of recipes for pastes and powders that, when applied to the cloth, may assist in cleaning the teeth, whitening the teeth, and aid in maintaining fresh breath.

One of the most common combinations was sagely powdered with crystallized salt.

Q5. Where did the concept of cleanliness come from?

The practice of cleanliness may be traced all the way back to Greek mythology.

The basic name of this concept comes from Hygieia, who was the daughter of Asklepios, the Greek deity of medicine. Hygieia was the goddess of health.

Hippocrates, a physician who advocated practicing careful personal cleanliness to ward off illness, is considered one of her most prominent followers.

Similar Posts:

Was this article helpful?

Leave a Comment