There are a few key differences between dental hygienists and dentists.
Registered dental hygienist for Vital Dental Hygiene Clinic, Tatiana Theroux, explained hygienists mostly focus on preventative care, while dentists deal primarily on restoration of the teeth through treatments.
"It's a collaboration that we work with the dentist."
Roles of a hygienist usually include oral hygiene checkups, consultation, teeth cleaning and taking x-rays. Dentists focus on diagnosing medical issues with the mouth or work on the teeth such as fixing cavities.
For example, a hygienist can recommend an x-ray to a patient if they notice an issue while cleaning their teeth. The dentist would then look at the x-ray and diagnose a cavity.
Schooling is another key difference between the two. Dental school and dental hygiene school are separated. Dental hygiene school tends to take around four years to complete. Afterwards, they must practice with a dentist for another five before they are allowed to work independently.
Dental school typically takes between six to nine years to complete. As a dentist is a registered doctor, they usually see a higher salary.