Can Dental Assistants become Dental Hygienist

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Dental assisting is an exciting and rewarding career, but for those looking to advance their careers in dentistry, becoming a dental hygienist may be a logical next step. Many dental assistants like you wonder if they can become dental hygienists in Canada, and the answer is yes, but after fulfilling a certain requirements.

In this article, we will explore, can dental assistants become hygienists? So, stay in the loop!

What is a dental assistant?

A dental assistant is a healthcare professional who assists dentists and dental hygienists in providing patient care. They perform a variety of tasks, such as preparing patients for procedures, sterilizing instruments, taking dental X-rays, and providing patient education on oral hygiene.

What is a dental hygienist?

A dental hygienist is a licensed healthcare professional who specializes in oral health. They work alongside dentists to provide preventative dental care, such as teeth cleanings, fluoride treatments, and oral health education. They also perform diagnostic tasks, such as taking dental X-rays, and may assist with certain dental procedures.

Duties of a dental assistant:

  • Assisting dentists during procedures and exams
  • Taking and developing dental X-rays
  • Sterilizing and organizing dental instruments and equipment
  • Educating patients on oral hygiene and postoperative care
  • Scheduling appointments and managing patient records
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Duties of a dental hygienist:

  • Cleaning teeth, removing plaque and tartar, and applying preventive treatments.
  • Administering local anesthesia and taking dental X-rays.
  • Educating patients on oral hygiene practices and making recommendations for improvement.
  • Assisting dentists with certain procedures.
  • Maintaining patient records and scheduling appointments.

Dental Assistant vs. Dental hygienists:

Here are some differences between dental assistants and dental hygienists:

Dental Assistant Dental Hygienist
Requires a high school diploma or equivalent education. Requires an associate degree in dental hygiene.
Assists dentists with patient care and management. Provides preventative dental care and education to patients.
Responsibilities include taking and developing X-rays, sterilizing and organizing instruments, preparing patients for procedures and exams, and educating patients on oral hygiene. Responsibilities include cleaning teeth, applying treatments, administering local anesthesia, dental X-rays for diagnostic purposes, and making recommendations for oral health improvement.

Can dental assistants become dental hygienists?

Yes, dental assistants can become dental hygienists in Canada, but they would need to complete additional education and training. 

In order to become a dental hygienist, assistants need to complete a recognized dental hygiene program, which typically requires an associate degree in dental hygiene. Dental assistants may be able to apply some of their previous education and experience towards the dental hygiene program, but they would still need to complete the required coursework and clinical training. Upon completion of the dental hygiene program, individuals would need to pass the National Dental Hygiene Certification Board exam and meet the licensing requirements.

How to get a license for dental hygienist?

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to obtain a license for dental hygienist in Canada:

  1. Research the requirements
  2. Complete an accredited dental hygiene program:
  3. Pass the National Dental Hygiene Certification Board (NDHCB) exam
  4. Apply for licensure
  5. Meet any additional requirements
  6. Maintain licensure


In conclusion, dental assisting can be a stepping stone to a career as a dental hygienist for those who want to take their careers to the next level. While the process of becoming a dental hygienist requires additional education and training, it can be a rewarding career path for those who are passionate about oral health and patient care. 

By completing an accredited dental hygiene program, passing the National Dental Hygiene Certification Board exam, and meeting the licensing requirements in their province, dental assistants can become licensed dental hygienists and take their careers in dentistry to the next level.

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