At Medical Career & Technical College, we are committed to providing students with a high-quality education that prepares them for successful careers in a variety of in-demand fields. One such industry that is always looking for capable and talented graduates is the dental industry.

A dental assistant helping a dentist and patient near Lexington, Kentucky (KY)

If you decide a career in the dental field is right for you, our dental assistant program equips you with the tools to excel as a dental assistant in less than a year. Our dental assistant program is designed to provide students with the skills, knowledge, and practical experience they need to succeed in this rewarding industry. If you’re interested in learning more about our program, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

But what is the difference between a dental assistant and a dental hygienist? It’s a common question, and we’re happy to share what makes each position unique.

Clinical Duties

One of the most significant differences between dental assistants and dental hygienists is supervision.

As a dental assistant, you will escort patients to the exam room and ensure necessary materials are available for the upcoming cleaning and examination. Dental assistants work closely with the dentist to provide support during routine procedures. You may be tasked with taking x-rays or performing minor procedures under supervision, but one-on-one contact with patients is kept to a minimal.

Our dental assistant program also includes EDDA, the expanded duties that allow you to place fillings. You can choose to specialize in a particular area of the dental field, including pediatrics or orthodontics.

On the other hand (or tooth), a dental hygienist performs cleanings and oral exams without supervision and is responsible for educating patients about proper oral hygiene. The dental hygienist can apply sealants and fluoride treatments, remove sutures after surgical procedures, and take molds of a patient’s teeth. Dental hygienists receive additional training to operate various tools, including drills, and are responsible for documenting care and treatment plans—which means additional time in school and additional costs.

Administrative Duties

Dental assistants can also take on administrative tasks within the office. Day-to-day needs will vary based on the office or institution, and you may find yourself responsible for greeting patients, scheduling appointments, handling billing and insurance, and updating patient records.

Mastering various clinical and administrative duties will make you an attractive candidate for employment in many dental office settings, and Medical Career & Technical College offers courses to make sure you have all the experience to become a successful dental assistant. Successful dental assistants have an open mind and a positive attitude and are ready for whatever the day may bring.

Education Requirements

While either position requires formal education to be part of the professional dental office environment, you can begin looking for a dental assistant position in nine months, with our lifetime career support to help you along.

With education requirements starting with a 2-year degree, becoming a dental hygienist requires far more time and resources. Dental hygienist programs take at least twice as long as dental assistant training.

Becoming a dental assistant is a fantastic way to get a quick start dentistry and pave the way for continuing education. Many accredited dental hygienist programs require applicants to have formal office experience, and our EDDA-approved externships provide you with just that—office experience and links to dental assistant jobs with a complete year of full education and high-quality training from career professionals.

Dental Assistant Certification Near Richmond

If you’ve ever wondered if a dental assistant is the same thing as a dental hygienist, you now know the differences to make an informed decision to better your future.

The faculty and staff at Medical Career & Technical College are committed to helping you succeed. We offer financial aid to make our programs more accessible for as many students as possible.

Our main campus is in Richmond, with satellite locations in Danville and Lexington, KY. Contact us today for more information about dental assistantship or any of our programs. We look forward to putting you in your next in-demand career path soon.