What is the Difference Between a Dentist and a Dental Hygienist?

Dentists are responsible for identifying, diagnosing, and treating tooth decay and gum disease. They administer local anesthetics for basic procedures and may prescribe medications. On the other hand, dental hygienists help dentists perform cleanings and advise patients on proper oral hygiene and care. Dental hygienists are also responsible for preventing and treating oral diseases, often with minimal supervision from a licensed dentist.

The work of dental hygienists eliminates a significant burden for dentists, freeing them up to perform more advanced procedures. As such, it is common for dental hygienists to perform preventive dental procedures in an office, such as cleaning teeth, screening patients for oral diseases, and other preventive dental care. They also educate patients on ways to improve and maintain good oral health. The biggest difference between dentists and dental hygienists is the role they play in a dental practice.

Dentists have the supervisory role in the clinical environment. They examine patients and perform procedures such as tooth decay removal, fillings, and other dental repairs. The dentist is also responsible for analyzing the patient information collected by the dental hygienist and diagnosing dental diseases and mechanical problems. Dentists refer specialists, such as oral surgeons and orthodontists, as needed.

Dentists tend to own offices, but they don't have to be. Dental hygienists don't usually have their own offices, but they can in some states. Dental hygienists can work in a single dental office, in several offices at once, or through a temporary agency for dental hygienists. Other options include clinics that serve disadvantaged populations, military clinics, and professional dental hygiene schools. Dentists usually start working as associates (some with a contractual purchase option).

They may eventually own an office or engage in corporate dentistry. If a dentist isn't prepared or interested in owning a property, they can accept a full-time job, a part-time job, temporary jobs, or some combination. When looking to fill their work schedules, dentists can use placement agencies or job search platforms such as Cloud Dentistry. Non-clinical perspectives include educational environments and consultant positions. Despite the differences between dentists and dental hygienists, they tend to share a love for dentistry and for helping patients. Dental office owners know that both professions are critical to the success of the practice. Those considering dentistry should also consider the many forms a dental career can take.

Just as there are doctors and nurses in hospitals, in dental offices there are dentists and dental hygienists. The task of diagnosing dental diseases is left to dentists who then develop a plan to prioritize treatment and guide the patient toward achieving their oral health goals. Dental hygienists can both do more than an assistant can and require more training but only the dentist is a doctor. Oral health is essential to the overall health of the body and dentists will encourage and help their patients maintain a healthy mouth through regular cleanings and checkups. Although hygienists are different from nurses, they can be thought of as the equivalent of dental nurses when compared to oral health professionals with other medical careers. The content of Teethtalkgirl is medically reviewed and verified by a licensed dentist or doctor to ensure that the information is objective, current and relevant. Much of a dentist's job is to solve a problem unlike the dental hygienist's preventive approach.

But generally, the amount of training required to become a hygienist is less than that needed to be a dentist.

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