dentist working on a patient

Dental Hygienist and a Dentist: What’s the Difference?

A lot of dental visits typically start with you seeing the dental hygienist before the actual dentist walks in. There’s actually a difference between a dental hygienist and dentist. Much like hospitals have doctors and nurses, dental practices have both dentists and dental hygienists. It’s important for you to know what each role means in terms of what they do. Among other things, it will lead you to be far more comfortable when your next appointment comes around.

What is the difference between a dentist and a dental hygienist?


As the title itself states, these physicians practise in the dentistry field. Aside from dealing with teeth, dentistry also diagnoses and treats conditions of the gums, mouth, and other relevant areas. 

Certain studies have shown that gum-related and/or teeth-related diseases can be signs or indications of a number of health issues. Because of this, maintaining your oral health is necessary for the body’s general health overall. A dentist will be able to assist and encourage their patients to have good oral hygiene through regular check-ups and cleaning.

Dentists are the only ones who can make a diagnosis regarding whatever issues the dental hygienist finds in your mouth. Moreover, a treatment plan will be drawn up so their patient will be able to achieve their goals for their oral health. 

Dentists are able to specialize; there is likely no hygienist who will classify themselves as periodontal. Certain dentists are able to get additional training well after they’re out of dental school. This way, they will be able to provide specific care for conditions that patients may have. 

Periodontists, for example, focus on the treatment of gum disease and other gum-related issues. There are also maxillofacial and oral surgeons, who have the qualifications to perform mouth surgeries. Another type of dentist is the endodontist, who particularly handles issues related to the nerves.

Dental Hygienist

A dental hygienist, in comparison to a dentist, has a more general scope. They are oral health professionals who prevent and treat oral diseases. Most of their work is done with a rather general scope of supervision from a licensed dentist. They’re vital to teams led by dentists because what they do takes a significant burden off of the dentists. With their help, the dentist is able to focus on the procedures that are more advanced. 

It’s typical for a dental hygienist to be the one to perform a lot of preventive dental procedures in a dental office. This includes examining patients for any possible oral diseases, teeth cleaning, and similar preventative dental care measures. 

The hygienists typically handle gum and teeth X-rays, give a fluoride rinse to patients, and have sealants applied to the teeth, so cavities are kept at bay. They’re also able to look at ways to care for your oral health. 

Also, there is far less training required for a dental hygienist than that of a dentist. 


For the most part, your dentist is meant for the more advanced procedures of your dental care. Your dental hygienist, on the other hand, does more preventative measures like teeth cleaning. However, they are both vital for maintaining your overall oral health. 

Looking for a dental hygienist? Schedule an appointment at Claydon Dental MK today! We offer general and cosmetic dentistry treatments to help keep your oral health in check.