While these roles may seem similar, there are key differences between Dental Assistants and Dental Hygienists. First, Dental Assistants usually complete short-term training and have the option to become certified by passing the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam. Dental Hygienists, however, must complete either a two- or four-year program as part of their training. Dental Assistants and Dental Hygienists also perform different tasks. Dental Assistants are largely responsible for preparatory tasks—taking x-rays, prepaying the patient for procedures, sterilizing equipment, etc. Dental Hygienists are tasked with responsibilities once solely reserved for Dentists, including performing dental exams and polishing and cleaning patients’ teeth.
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