Dental tools used by dental assistants and hygienists

What are the differences between a dental assistant and a dental hygienist? If you are interested in a career in the dental field in Quebec, one of these jobs could be exactly what you are looking for. It is therefore important to understand the fundamental differences between these two professions to make the right career choice.

Both the dental assistant and the dental hygienist take care of the needs of dental patientsThere are many things that distinguish their position within the practice. Learn more about these dental jobs from the experts at Carrière Dentaire.

Dental assistant vs. dental hygienist: role and responsibilities within the dental office

A dental hygienist performing an examination on a patient

When patients come to the dental clinic, they expect to be seen by a dentist. However, they will spend much more time under the care of of dental assistants and dental hygienists. Find out more about the role and responsibilities of thejob as a dental assistant and thejob of hygienist.

What is a dental assistant?

Dental assistants perform a wide variety of administrative tasks and provide a wide range of oral health care to patients. They are primarily responsible for the logistics of the appointments and have the following responsibilities:

  • Ensure the comfort and the installation of the patients on the examination chair
  • Preparation and sterilization of instruments and the dentist's work area
  • Assist the dentist during procedures (drying the patient's mouth, passing tools)
  • X-ray imaging and various laboratory tasks
  • Educate the patient on the best dental hygiene techniques
  • Make appointments for follow-ups and update the patient's file
  • Handle bills and payments and answer patient questions

What is a dental hygienist?

The jobs of dental hygienist vs. dental assistant are different according to their roles within the practice. While the dental assistant assists, the dental hygienist is a dental professional in his own right.

Hygienists regularly perform the following tasks in a dental office:

  • Cleaning and polishing of teeth (removing tartar, stains and plaque, applying sealants and fluoride hygiene treatments).
  • Complete dental examination of patients to ensure a proper follow-up of their oral health (identify oral diseases, follow their evolution and treatment, make a report for the dentist).
  • Educate patients on best practices for preventive dental care (how to properly select oral care appliances, how to properly brush or floss to maintain good oral hygiene).

Hygienists also work with many specialized tools as part of their work. They are also responsible for taking x-ray images to determine problems with tooth or jaw alignment.

Dental assistant vs. dental hygienist: a different educational path

A group of students working to become a dental assistant or dental hygienist

Another important difference between the dental assistant vs. the dental hygienist is the professional training path. For becoming a dental hygienista person must follow technical college studies (DEC) 3 years in dental hygiene and obtain a license to practice the Ordre des hygiénistes dentaires du Québec. This license is issued upon successful completion of the training.

As for the job of dental assistant, it is in fact a diploma of professional studies in dental assistance. His training is then much shorter than that of a hygienist. It consists of 1500 hours of training over a period of 13 months on a full-time basis and includes 4 internships of approximately 2 to 4 weeks.

What is the difference in salary between these two dental careers?

Salary is another major difference in the dental assistant vs. dental hygienist topic. According to the Government of CanadaThe average hourly wage for a dental assistant career in Quebec isapproximately 21 $/hour. As for the job of hygienist, the average salary is around 31 $/hour.

Hygienist vs. dental assistant: the common points

A dental hygienist performing an examination on a little girl

Skills sought

  • Interest and knowledge of oral care;
  • Meticulousness, attention to detail;
  • Interpersonal skills (sociability, communication, teamwork, empathy);
  • Manual dexterity.

Work environment

Both dental assistants and dental hygienists can work in the private or public dental clinics, or in clinical study laboratories. They work in close collaboration with different types of health professionals, ranging from dentists to dental surgeons, as well as specialists in dentures, implants and denturologists.

Outlook and investment rates

These jobs both have great prospects and a excellent placement rate in Quebec.

Carrière Dentaire, your resource for the dental community in Quebec

To land your dream career, find the ideal candidate for your job offers or to find answers to your questions, Carrière Dentaire is the platform to use. Do not hesitate to contact us!

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