There are a lot of misconceptions about the difference between a dentist and a dental hygienist. Some people might believe that they’re the same thing, but they’re not. It’s important that you know the differences to ensure your oral health is in the right hands. Let’s ask a dentist Cheltenham about a couple of differences between a dentist and a dental hygienist, and highlight some of them.
Who is a Dentist?
Dentistry is the branch of healthcare concerned with diagnosing, treating, and preventing diseases or conditions affecting the teeth, gums, and oral cavity. Dentists have expertise in dental medicine as well as other oral-related procedures, including orthodontics (braces), endodontics (root canals), periodontology (gum disease), orofacial pain (sore throats).
Dentistry is usually divided into various specialities such as endodontics, periodontics, oral and maxillofacial surgery, orthodontics, and pedodontics. Although dentists have the technical knowledge and skills to help patients with many oral diseases (such as tooth decay), they are not physicians. For more complex conditions (such as cancer), dentists refer patients to a medical specialist, most commonly an oral and maxillofacial surgeon or an otorhinolaryngologist.
Who is a Dental Hygienist?
Dentist hygienists, also known as dental therapists, are trained to clean teeth and give oral health care. Dentist hygienists mainly take care of your teeth and, more often than not, specialize in preventative dental care. Dental hygienists are licensed professionals who work under the supervision of a dentist. In most cases, dental hygienists will also handle x-rays, prepare the patient for the dentist, and other tasks related to oral care.
To become a dental hygienist, you need to complete a 2-year course from an accredited college. You’ll undergo a one-year internship to get you ready for the dental field.
What’s the Difference Between a Dentist and a Dental Hygienist?
The main difference between dentists and dental hygienists is that dentists perform more specialized procedures, while dental hygienists are more like their assistants.
Dentists diagnose problems, complete operations, and instruct patients on how to keep their teeth healthy. Dental hygienists mainly clean teeth. They also offer preventative services like fluoride treatments or exams for children.
Dental Hygienists Work Closely with Dentists
Dental hygienists work closely with dentists to provide care for patients. They also work with other dental team members, including dental assistants and dental auxiliaries. They may also be involved in helping the patient prepare for procedures by giving information or sedation.
Major Duties and Tasks
Dental hygienists are responsible for performing all medical and administrative procedures that may come under “dental hygiene.” They include x-rays, dentures, cleaning appliances, scaling, polishing teeth, and oral cancer screenings. Depending on their role within the dental practice, they may also work with dental assistants or assist the dentist in making decisions on possible dental treatments.
Dentists all have the same duties: to diagnose, prevent, and treat oral diseases and conditions. They can clean teeth, extract teeth, and repair damaged ones. In some circumstances, they provide fillings, crowns, bridges, and dentures. Dentists are also responsible for screening patients for oral cancer, managing oral trauma cases, and performing other advanced dental procedures.
Progression and Training
Dental hygienists are required to complete a college degree and duly pass state board exams. In most states, a dental hygienist is required to hold a license. To keep up with the latest changes within their profession, they may need training or certain continuing education courses to maintain their license.
In comparison, doctors of dentistry (dentists) are required to spend at least four years in school after obtaining a bachelor’s degree. After their studies, they must pass a state board certification exam, which is a prerequisite to working in the dental field.
These exams vary from state to state, and while some require only passing the national exam, others may also require you to take a separate local board’s exam. Once a dentist is board-certified, they must complete residency training as well. Upon completing all education and training requirements, each state will issue a license that enables the doctor of dentistry to practice dentistry.
There are many different dental specialities. Of these, a dentist and a dental hygienist are two of the most popular professions practiced. While both jobs entail keeping people’s teeth and gums healthy and clean, they do so through different means — meaning that one can work alone while the other type works with a dentist.