I don’t know about anyone else; but when I go to the dentist, I can pretty much only think about how much pain I will be in and how much it will cost. I certainly never thought about the difference between a dental hygienist and a dental assistant.
However; a person pursuing a career in the dental industry should really be interested in the differences and similarities.
The biggest difference between the two careers that I can see is the length of schooling. A dental hygienist in the Dallas area went to school for between two and four years years to get their degree while a dental assistant in the Dallas, Fort Worth area could have gone to school for ten weeks or between nine months and two years for their Dental Assistant Degree.
No, that is not a typo. A dental assistant degree can take between nine months and two years at most schools in the U.S. Yet, there is a school in Dallas (one of only three dental schools in the area) that a person can get their dental assistant degree from in only ten weeks. The Dallas Dental Assistant School is leading the way in making a dental assistant degree possible for everyone.
A dental hygienist is responsible for oral hygiene. These are the nice people that are scraping and flossing and rinsing and chastising you for your poor flossing habits before the dentist comes in to take a peek. A dental assistant takes x-rays, creates impressions, performs whitening treatments, sanitizes and lays out instruments, assists the dentist with suction and various tasks during a procedure and many other duties. Personally, I would much rather be the dental assistant; it just seems like a more exciting job.
A dental hygienist does make a significantly higher wage than a dental assistant at a median annual salary in Dallas, TX of $70,326, as of January 02, 2018. Conversely, a dental hygienist in the Dallas Fort Worth area makes a median annual salary of approximately $35,000 a year. This is likely, due to the much longer and more detailed education that a dental hygienist must acquire for their degree.
Yet, wouldn’t it be a terrible thing to invest all of that time and money into a career that you won’t truly know if you like until you are practicing and end up hating it? And what about someone who cannot afford to take all of that time off from work and/ or has children to feed and care for?
The wisest route to enter the dental field in Texas is clearly to attend the advanced Dallas School of Dentistry; where a degree can be obtained in as little as ten weeks. The program is also all-inclusive in that you can get your mandatory CPR certification, HIPPA training and more that other schools may not always include. Again, the Dallas Dental Assistant School has a ten-week program that can give you the same credentials as someone spending two years and more money. It’s a personal decision but in a time-sensative society; the shorter program proves to be most beneficial.