The difference between a dentist and a dental hygienist

Contrary to what many believe, dental hygienists and dentists offer different services both of which should be applied to your dental hygiene routine.


Dental hygienist and the services they offer 

Dental hygienists are responsible for your dental hygienist (believe it or not)! and they are under the supervision of dentist.  This means they do not deal with fundamental conditions to do with the structure or condition of your tooth roots and tooth structure, but they can help keep your teeth free from bacteria (plaque and tartar.)

Dental hygienists will perform what is known as a ‘scale and polish’ in order to remove any bacteria that is staining your mouth. This staining comes from consuming lots of alcohol, smoking, confectionary and failing to brush your teeth properly.

Your dental hygienist can also perform whitening services, sealants and some are also registered to perform injections.

Although hygienists do not have as much training as dentists, their role is vital in keeping your teeth healthy, working in conjunction with your dentist.


Hygienists will 

  • Advise you on how to maintain healthy oral hygiene.
  • Carry out tests such as taking your blood pressure.
  • Developing and taking X-rays.
  • Apply treatments such as fluorides, sealants and whitening agents.
  • Advising you on the products that can be used at home.



Dentists have more all-encompassing roles than dental hygienists and are responsible for writing out prescriptions, perform medical and surgical procedures and injections as well as administer local anaesthetics for treatments. They can also perform procedures such as root canal treatments and fillings.

Dentists are your equivalent of a GP in medicine. Their knowledge is less specialised and more general, so that they can deal with a variety of conditions.

Dentists and hygienists must communicate to offer their patients the highest level of care and to ensure they do not contradict each other over treatments.


What about orthodontists? 

Orthodontists are specialists in the the field of tooth structure, offering services such as straightening your teeth, dealing with crowded teeth as well as jaw position problems.

Orthodontists train as dentists first and foremost and are knowledgable about general dentistry as a whole. After completing training to become a general dentist (the equivalent of a GP if you will) they specialise their knowledge to orthodontics.

To book a consultation with us here at Cliftonville please contact us here. 

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