Dental Hygienist Vs Dentist – What’s The Difference?

Excerpt: Have you ever wondered why a dental clinic would need a dental hygienist and a dentist there
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Have you ever wondered why a dental clinic would need a dental hygienist and a dentist there? What is the difference between the two professions? Well don’t worry, we’re going through all the differences in this article! 

What’s Does A Dentist Specialize In?

A dentist is a type of health practitioner who provides services in the field of dentistry which focuses on the mouth, teeth and, related areas. The health of the mouth is essential to sustaining general health. Dentists make regular appointments to monitor the patient’s oral health, clean them and even educate them on how their habits are affecting the overall body.
 
While a dental hygienist might detect problems within your mouth and point them out to a dentist or periodontist, they aren’t qualified to diagnose the problem. Dentists come up with plans for treatment, prioritize it and guide patients toward achieving their oral health goals. Some dentists receive additional training after dental school that allows them to specialize in common conditions and care for certain defects in teeth. Periodontists are one example of dental specialists who focus on gums, along with endodontists, orthodontists, oral surgeons, and others.
 
Dentists provide the following care:
 
  • Conduct and interpret dental X-rays
  • Fill cavities
  • Extract teeth
  • Repair cracked teeth
  • Promote oral health and oral hygiene
  • Fill and bond teeth
  • Treat gum disease, such as gingivitis
  • Prescribe treatment, including prescription drugs, for oral health conditions
  • Whiten teeth
  • Install crowns or veneers
  • Oversee the development of children’s teeth
  • Perform oral surgery
 

Dental Hygienist Training Requirements 

Dentists need to complete a few more years of training and go through completing a residency before they can become licensed. Dental school is not required for licensure, and general dentists are able to practice after getting their dental degree. For those who hope to be specialists, the requirements vary based on the specialty. Residencies last from two to four years depending on the specialty chosen. Dentists need a license in addition to a state license, just like hygienists do.
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What Does A Dental Hygienist Specialize In?

While a dental hygienist might perform hygiene treatment, he or she will refer patients to a dentist for more in-depth diagnosis and treatment. 
 

A dentist performs the procedures, and checks your progress in the office, while a hygienist cleans your teeth, scrapes gum tissue and applies sealants before you leave in order to ward off tooth decay.


Throughout your visit, they’ll also give you advice on eating healthy foods, and household habits such as brushing and flossing, along with what you should avoid or eat regularly in order to manage oral health and avoid any major issues. 

Dental Hygienist Training Requirements 

It’s important to realize that the amount of academic training it takes to become a dental hygienist is less than it does to be a dentist. Both associate degree level (two years) and bachelor’s degree level (four years) programs are available. Completing one also needs to pass an exam in order to receive their state-issued licenses. The professional title “RDH” after someone’s name identifies that individual’s possession of a license as a registered dental hygienist.

Frequently Asked Questions

A dental clinic will generally have both a hygienist and a dentist, and you will probably see both of them in the same visit. The hygienist’s main tasks are cleaning, and seeing if there are any problems they can inform the dentist about. A dentist will usually handle more serious diagnoses and will provide treatment or advice.

Dentists’ hourly rates are higher than hygienists’, so if you just had a dentist and not a hygienist, your costs may go up for the same quality of care.

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