The Difference Between A Dental Hygienist And A Dental Assistant

Anytime you schedule an appointment with a Des Cedres Dental Clinic you know that you can expect to speak with or encounter several people on your visit. Obviously, when you enter the clinic you will first meet with the receptionist. This person will greet you and check you in by going over your paperwork and your patient file to ensure that this is, in fact, the time of your appointment. They will also ensure your insurance and contact information is up to date, too. The receptionist also typically has many other duties as well but, for the most part, they deal with administrative responsibilities.

After the receptionist checks you in you wait and then eventually get taken to your examination room—or the dentist chair. Once there, though, you will also probably encounter at least two more people. Obviously, one of these people is going to be the dentist but before they make their way to you it is quite likely that the dental hygienist will spend some time with you. You might also get a visit from a dental assistant.


Typically, the first person you sit with in a dentist’s chair is the person who cleans your teeth. This is not the dentist; it is the dental hygienist. Their job is to prepare your teeth for examination by the doctor. They clean and polish teeth, administer the flouride treatment and remove hard and soft deposits or tartar or plaque (with floss or the scraper), and they might also develop dental x-rays.


The Dental Assistant, on the other hand, prepares and breaks down the office. They might be responsible for storing, cleaning, disinfecting, and laying out the tools the dentist will need. A dental assistant can also handle patient records and medical history. Generally, if a dental assistant is present during your examination (or other procedure) they are only present in the event the dentist needs an extra set of hands, so to speak, to hold or hand them instruments.

The dental assistant does not, generally, perform any actual dentistry-related procedures.

Indeed, they may also prepare the equipment for surgery. This could include the dental x-ray machine, anesthetics, dental cement, and the dental impression materials. The responsibilities of the dental assistant can vary state to state.

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