Dental Assistants and Dental Hygienists: Different Duties, Different Backgrounds
Students who are interested in entering the dental field may find themselves wondering: what is the difference between a dental assistant and dental hygienist, and which job is right for me?
Both dental hygienists and dental assistants help to make patients feel comfortable during their visits, and may ask patients about their medical history and help them to understand how they can best maintain their oral health, among various office management duties.
The biggest difference between the duties of dental hygienists and dental assistants is that dental hygienists can work individually with a patient, while dental assistants help the dentist when he or she is working with a patient. Dental hygienists can perform cleanings or apply sealants to help protect patients’ oral health, while dental assistants help the dentist with procedures such as filling cavities or taking and developing dental x-rays. Dental assistants may also prepare and sterilize dental equipment.
Dental hygienists must receive degrees through a community college, technical college, or dental school or university, and then take licensure examinations. Requirements for dental assistants vary from state to state–some states do not have formal education requirements, while others require graduation from an accredited dental assistant school and passing of a state exam.
In order to operate radiology equipment in NJ, as many dental assistants must, dental assistants must meet certain radiography requirements. ACI Medical & Dental School offers an accredited Radiography program that helps students to receive certification in radiation health and safety through the Dental Assistant National Board Examination and become licensed in dental radiologic technology through the New Jersey Environmental Protection Agency.
ACI Medical & Dental School’s Dental Assistant with Radiology Program
If you live in New Jersey and are interested in becoming a dental assistant, or if you are currently a dental assistant and do not have your license in dental radiologic technology, contact us to learn about our Dental Assistant with Radiology program.