Dental Hygienist vs General Dental Assistant

Dental Assistant Dental Hygienist
Duties Completes administrative tasks like scheduling appointments and billing patients and performs clinical duties directly with the doctor and laboratory tasks such as models, and whitening trays, Prepare patients for treatment, Clean instruments and equipment, Taking photographs, making temporary restorations, taking x-rays for diagnostics, Cleans patients' teeth and communicates issues with dentists, takes X-rays and dental impressions, documents care plans and educates patients on oral healthcare, administers anesthetic, Apply preventive treatments such as fluoride, Examine teeth and gums and collect information about patients’ oral and medical health history
Licenses Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) after completing two full years of full time work as a dental assistant State Dental Board
Education At minimum, a high school diploma or GED Associate degree in dental hygiene
Training Minimum of 10 week dental assisting course with externship Clinical instruction
Pay $41,180
Median Annual Salaries Cited by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Median Annual Salaries Cited by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

General Dental Assistant vs Orthodontic Dental Assistant

General Dental Assistant course Orthodontic Assistant focused course
  • Bonding: A different type of bonding than orthodontists, this dental procedure allows dentists and their assistants to use a special mixture of resin to repair chipped or fractured teeth or replace teeth.
  • Crowns: A crown or cap is a metal, acrylic or porcelain protective cover over a decayed or damaged tooth.
  • Bridges: Bridges are false teeth in between two anchoring teeth, often supported by dental implants.
  • Fillings: Dentists and their assistants use restorative materials to fill gaps in teeth that have cavities or other damages.
  • Tooth extractions: Dental professionals may need to extract or remove damaged teeth such as cavities, or wisdom teeth that may disrupt other tooth positions.
  • Sutures: Sutures or stitches help hold gums together to heal after a tooth extraction surgery.
  • X-rays: X-rays provide pictures of a patient's jaws and teeth to determine their state in development, positioning and alignment.
  • Banding: Banding is placing strong metal rings on and around a patient's back teeth to hold their braces in place.
  • Bonding: Bonding is attaching brackets to a patients' teeth using a special, safe adhesive.
  • Archwires: An archwire is a wire that runs through brackets to form braces and align teeth.
  • Impressions: An impression is a tray of alginate material that creates a mold of a patient's teeth, often for the making of retainers.
  • Photographs: Digital photographs of a patient's face, profile and teeth help orthodontists assess alignment and measure
  • Learn all skills to work in a general Dental Office which can also include the specialties of Oral Surgery, Orthodontics, Pediatrics
  • Working in General dentistry, you can continue your education and become an EFDA (expanded Function Dental Auxillary)
Get to focus just on Orthodontics
Disadvantages A lot to learn After working in Orthodontics, your general dental learning experience is limited
Training 10 week general dental assisting course which includes Orthodontic Training Orthodontic focused course – Lacks some general assisting skills and labs
Pay $60,464
National Average
National Average
Licenses Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) after completing two full years of full time work as a dental assistant. Offered by DANB Certified Orthodontic Assistant credential, also offered by the DANB.