Often when you visit a Dental Clinic, the first person you meet is the dental hygienist. Just as there are doctors and nurses in hospitals, there are dentists and dental hygienists in dental clinics/offices.
Understanding the roles each of the two medical professionals play can help you be more relaxed on your next visit.
Dental hygienist vs Dentist
Who is a Dental Hygienist?
A dental hygienist is an oral health professional behind the prevention and treatment of oral diseases. Dental hygienists do a lot of work on their own, with only the general supervision of a licensed dentist.
However, their work frees the dentist from a large amount of work, allowing him to concentrate on more complex operations.
As a result, it is extremely common for dental hygienists to perform a variety of preventive dental procedures in a dental clinic, such as teeth cleaning, oral disease screening, and other preventative dental care.
They also instruct patients on various methods they could use to improve and maintain good oral health. Cleaning, scaling, root planting, and sealants are among the procedures in which dental hygienists are experts.
Although dental hygienists are largely different from nurses, one can think of them as alternatives to dental nurses when compared to oral health professionals in other medical fields.
Like registered nurses, dental hygienists must write panel exams and have in-depth knowledge of human anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, and pathology. Additionally, they are officially called Registered Dental Hygienists (RDH).
Dental hygienist vs dentist
Who is a dentist?
A dentist is a doctor who works in the field of dentistry. The job involves treating infections or diseases in the mouth, teeth, gums and other related areas.
Research suggests that diseases associated with the teeth and gums may be signs of other health problems. Additionally, the health of your mouth is vital to the health of your entire body.
A dentist’s job is to motivate and help patients maintain a healthy mouth through frequent cleanings and checkups. A dentist may also be called a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS).
Dental hygienist vs dentist: Similarities
Regardless of the many differences between the training and duties of dental hygienists and dentists, both professions require special examinations to provide services important to the patient’s well-being.
Like hygienists, dentists must possess a license to practice.
Dental hygienist vs dentist: Differences
When it comes to determining the distinction between a dentist and a dental hygienist, one takes at least eight years of study (4 years at the undergraduate level, another 4 in dental school, and a few additional years if desired to specialize). , while the other takes between two and four years.
Roles and Specialization
A dental hygienist may choose to work in the practice of a Periodontist. Ultimately, this does not make you a periodontal hygienist.
Few dentists obtain additional education after dental school that allows them to specialize and care for selected conditions in patients.
A periodontist, who focuses on treating diseased gums and other gum-related problems, is a type of dental specialist.
What does a dental hygienist do?
A dental hygienist is available to provide preventive care and help you avoid further problems. Dental hygienists use X-ray machines to scan the teeth and gums, rinse the patient’s mouth with fluoride, and apply sealants to the teeth to prevent cavities.
The hygienist provides advice on how to care for your teeth, tips on how to brush and floss your teeth correctly, and foods to avoid or eat for a healthy mouth.
The job requires independence, seeing patients for preventive care, and providing insights on issues such as oral hygiene, nutrition, and detecting obvious signs of oral cancer or periodontitis.
However, dental hygienists are supervised and directed by dentists. They can examine their patients and advise them, as long as they visit a dentist for an oral examination at least once a year.
Duties and Responsibilities of a Licensed Dental Hygienist:
Licensed dental hygienists clean a patient’s teeth during a routine exam by brushing and removing layers and stains. Additionally, they polish teeth and note dental conditions.
After performing examination procedures, they perform preventative dental hygiene care, monitor blood pressure, and review your medical history.
They also guide the patient on correct home dental care. Ultimately, a dental hygienist supports the dentist with procedures such as tooth extraction.
At the same time, every time the hygienist detects a potential problem, he delivers the data generated to the dentist.
What does a dentist do?
A dental hygienist notices a problem in a patient’s mouth and calls a dentist or periodontist because he or she cannot diagnose the problem that concerns him or her.
This task is performed only by the dentist, who then provides a remedy and guides the patient to achieve their oral health goals.
Dentists are capable of performing all the activities that a dental hygienist can perform and even more.
However, assuming a dental hygienist performs an X-ray scan and notices that something looks strange, the dentist is the only one who officially identifies the condition and tells the patient the next step to take.
Roles and responsibilities of a dentist:
Dentists run the health center and perform treatments such as fillings, root canals, sedation administration, gum extraction and surgery.
They examine a patient’s data, which the dental hygienist collected beforehand. Additionally, they distinguish between dental diseases and chewing problems.
Finally, they make referrals to professionals, including oral surgeons and orthodontists, whenever required.
When a patient requests an enamel correction or extraction, they must visit a dentist. No other dentist is legally authorized to treat or reconstruct physical damage to a tooth.
Dental hygienist vs dentist: Career path
Like clinical doctors, a dentist has a minimum of 8 years of schooling before becoming a doctor. Not hygienists. To aspire to be a dental hygienist, you must choose between an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene.
Even with an associate degree, you may have about 1-2 years of prerequisites to complete (which is equivalent to what nurses require, such as A&P, Microbiology, Chemistry, etc.).
As soon as one is done with the aforementioned, they spend two more years in hygiene school. In addition, they care for patients and master topics such as pharmacology, dental materials, oral pathology, etc.
After college, each dental hygienist must write a national panel exam (which requires 6 to 8 hours to complete) and a state medical panel exam, where they are evaluated by expert hygienists.
Other states have introduced licensing exams, including nitrous oxide monitoring (laugh-out-loud gas), nearby anesthesia dispensers, regulations/law requirements, etc.
Dental hygienist training requirements:
Both associate degrees (two years) and Bachelor’s degrees (four years) prepare students to take the exam and become qualified dental hygienists.
Most importantly, the system in which one participates must be approved by the Commission on Dental Accreditation.
Additionally, after completing a diploma program, an aspiring hygienist must pass another exam to gain approval to practice within their state.
A certified hygienist can now add the initials “RDH” after their name, which stands for registered dental hygienist.
Dentist Training Requirements:
On the other hand, dentists require a few additional years of education before legally practising as a dentist. Attending dental school is a must for all aspiring dentists.
To be eligible for dental school, aspiring student will need to handle many science courses at each stage of their undergraduate levels. If someone aspires to be a well-known dentist, she must obtain a degree in dentistry.
Dentists who wish to specialize will need to complete a few additional years of mentoring, usually as a residency program. Depending on the speciality, a residency program can last up to two or four years.
Dentists must also acquire a license from their state in order to work. Additionally, dental specialists must also obtain a license in their respective specialities.
Dentists are typical doctors who have more educational qualifications and experience than dental hygienists. They usually tend to be in school for a long time because their responsibilities are many.
As the program duration is long for dentists, so is their salary. When considering the salaries earned by the two professions, becoming a dentist is a better option.
Incredible; I hope this article answers your question.