Top 3 Major Differences Between A Dentist And A Dental Hygienist

Dental Practice

A dental team typically includes a dentist, a dental hygienist, a dental assistant, and one or two staff. Both the dental hygienists and the dentists share the same passion and concerns, that is, to provide the best oral health care to patients. They also use the same dental instruments as Schultz optical loupes when carrying out dental tasks. But despite their similarities, they also differ in many ways.

Dental Practice

Below are a few differences between a dentist and a dental hygienist.

Roles, duties, and responsibilities

Let us focus on the three major aspects that differentiate a dentist from a dental hygienist. Let us start off by understanding the respective roles, duties, and responsibilities of these two dental professionals.

The primary role of the dental hygienist in a dental practice is to stand as the first line of defense against oral problems and to provide early patient care. As a dental hygienist, you will be responsible for performing minor dental procedures like the routine check-up, teeth cleaning, teeth polishing, fluoride rinsing, and sealant application, among others. You will also be the one to take the x-rays of your patient's gums and teeth as well as to provide some tips about oral hygiene like how to properly floss and brush and the best diet for oral health.

Dental Hygienists

On the other end, a dentist takes the major dental tasks whenever treatment is required. As a dentist, you will be responsible in coming up with a precise diagnosis of the oral problem and suggest an appropriate treatment plan for resolving the problem. You will also be the one to execute the treatment procedure.


Dentists are considered as actual doctors and they also need to complete more years of education and training than dental hygienists. This is why they typically receive bigger compensation than the latter.

Dental Loupe

Training and education

Although both the dentist and the dental hygienist need to pass the licensure exam before they can practice dentistry, they differ in terms of education and training.

The training and education required for the dental hygienists are relatively less intense than the dentist. In order to become a dental hygienist, you need to complete either a two-year associate degree or a four-year bachelor's degree in dental hygiene. Once you have completed the required training and education from an accredited dental hygiene school, and you successfully pass the dental hygienist licensure exam, you will be given the privilege to add the initials RDH (Registered Dental Hygienist) after your name.

Dental Loupe

Unlike the dental hygienist, a dentist has to earn a degree first and then complete a 4-year education and training at a dental school before he or she is allowed to practice dentistry. After finishing 4 years of dental education, you can be able to practice general dentistry. However, if you want to specialize, you will still have to undergo two to four years of additional training mostly under a residency program. 


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