Dentist vs. Hygienist: Who am I Seeing at My Next Dental Visit?

Posted by Dr. Soto Dec 17, 2018

This is a thumbnail image of blog Dentist vs. Hygienist: Who am I Seeing at My Next Dental Visit?

Most people know the importance of visiting the dentist at least twice a year for a dental checkup and a cleaning, regardless of whether any dental problems exist or not. However, many people may not know the precise differences between these two dental professionals.

Roles and Background of a Dentist and a Dental Hygienist

The first professional who comes in during your dental visit is the dental hygienist. This person will conduct any necessary or routine X-rays and will clean and polish your teeth.

The second person who comes in is the dentist. This person will review your X-ray scans, ask you about any oral issues you’ve noticed, and take a final look around the inside of your mouth. Your dentist is the professional who can perform fillings for cavities and does the work to repair your teeth.


One of the major differences between a dentist and a dental hygienist is their educational background. A dentist must complete at least 8 or 9 years of education after high school, including college, dental school, and residency.

Dental hygienists must earn a 2-year associate’s degree in dental hygiene. A bachelor’s degree (4-year college degree) and a master’s degree in dental hygiene are available, but most hygienists do not have this background.

Both dental hygienists and dentists must pass exams in order to receive their license to work in the dental profession. However, a dentist must get a license specific to the state in which they will be practicing dentistry.

Daily Duties

At the dentist’s office, a dental hygienist will typically treat the patient before the dentist sees the patient. The hygienist will not only clean your teeth and perform X-rays, but they will also check for gingivitis and other oral diseases that could be developing in your mouth.

After your teeth have been cleaned, the dentist will come in and receive the hygienist’s input about your oral health. The dentist will then examine the X-rays (if any), diagnose any problems, repair any dental issues, and possibly prescribe medicine.

Your dentist is also a professional who performs procedures like root canals, fillings for cavities, dental crowns, cosmetic surgery, and much more.

Dentists deliver skilled diagnoses and specific treatment, whereas dental hygienists provide more general care of your teeth.


Since dentists are actual doctors with a DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) or DMD (Doctor of Dental Medicine) degree, they are paid significantly more than dental hygienists, who only need an associate’s degree. Therefore, a dentist’s time costs patients more money.

Experienced Dentist in South Florida

While there are major differences between dentists and dental hygienists, both professionals are trained to provide great care for your oral health. Be sure to visit with your dentist and hygienist at least twice a year to maintain good oral health.

For all your teeth cleaning and dental needs, contact the office of Dr. Ernie Soto. Dr. Soto and our caring team serve patients of all ages in Broward County, Florida, delivering comprehensive dental care including cosmetic and implant dentistry.

Call us today at (954) 368-6264 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Soto. You can also request an appointment online. We are ready to help you get your best possible smile.

Leave A Reply

Please fill all the fields.

Office Hours

MON - THU9:00 am - 5:00 pm

FRI9:00 am - 1:00 pm

SAT - SUNClosed

Address: 10187 Cleary Blvd STE 103, Plantation, FL 33324


Phone: (954) 368-6264