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Is There a Difference Between a Dentist and a Dental Hygienist?

If you’re still considering what career path you’d like to take in the dental world, you might be a little hazy on all of the titles. After all, it seems like there are many different names for the same job. While it’s true that some look and sound similar, there is, in fact, a world of difference.

One of the biggest misconceptions is that dental hygienists and dentists are the same things. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In all actuality, there is a vast difference in these titles. To help clear things up, let’s look at what makes these two roles so unique from one another.

The Dental Difference

Over the years, the roles that make up a dental practice have all seen big changes. At one time, a dentist would perform all jobs and tasks required for an appointment. With the changing landscape of technology, they now share tasks with specialists, hygienists, and assistants.

As a dental hygienist, it is your responsibility to perform routine check-ups and cleanings for patients. From these appointments, you will share with the dentist any finds that may be of concern. Your role is to complement your dentist in the care of the patient's oral cavities so they are able to improve their overall health.

A dentist, similar to a doctor, will provide diagnosis and perform procedures while the dental hygienist will perform checkups, remove plaque, and advise on improving oral health. Depending on the state you’re in, some dental hygienists must be supervised by the dentist in order to provide dental care on teeth.

Dental hygienists usually have their hands tied when it comes to providing a diagnosis to patients. They will, however, review the history of each patient, and provide physical examinations to assess their health. If the hygienist finds something troublesome during the initial examination, they will consult with the dentist on suggestions to improve care.

While both the dentist and hygienist have separate roles, it is key for a functioning office to use teamwork. If you are interested in testing out new work atmospheres, check out some freelance options on our site,


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