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A dental assistant and a dental hygienist. At first glance, these two jobs seem like the same thing, but actually they are very different. These two occupations not only differ in the type and amount of education needed for the position, but in the duties as well. Here are a few of the different duties of a dental assistant and a dental hygienist.

The Duties Of A Dental Assistant

As their name suggests, dental assistants “assist” the dentist by:

  • Aiding the dentist during procedures (handing over the required tools)
  • Sterilizing dental instruments and equipment
  • Ordering supplies for the office
  • Taking and developing x-rays (hygienists do this as well)
  • Obtaining patient records
  • Office management (setting up appointments, billing and insurance, etc.)

The Duties Of A Dental Hygienist

Unlike dental assistants, dental hygienists work more with the patient by:

  • Brushing, flossing, scaling, and polishing the patient’s teeth
  • Applying fluoride treatments and dental sealants
  • Injecting local anesthetics
  • Collecting information about a patient’s medical history
  • Teaching patients about oral hygiene (assistants do this as well)
  • Examining a patient’s mouth for tooth decay and gum disease
  • Tracking a patient’s dental conditions