Who gets paid more dental assistants or hygienists?

Without a doubt, hygienists are paid more than dental assistants. As of May 2018, hygienists brought home an average salary of $74,820 a year, while dental assistants’ median annual wage was $38,660. In short, the hygienists’ salary is nearly double that of dental assistants’. 

Dental assistants and hygienists salaries by geographical location

Dental assistants and hygienist salaries in the U.S vary according to geographical location. Here are 5 States where dental aides earn the most money:

StateAnnual mean wage
Minnesota$49,880
District of Columbia$49,220
New Hampshire$48,760
Alaska$47,330
North Dakota$46,640

Top 5 most paying states for hygienists, in the U.S, include:

StateAnnual mean salary
Alaska$114,320
California$100,830
Washington$90,690
Arizona$85,890
New Jersey$85,860

Benefits and perks

On top of a full-time income, dental hygienists and assistants may enjoy benefits packages from their employers. A standard package may include perks such as paid vacations, membership dues for professional affiliations, health insurance coverage, and sick leave. Of course, some of these perks depend on the setting of where you work. 

Scope of work

Between the two, a hygienist’s scope of work is more complex and broader than most of their tasks entail direct care. While these responsibilities vary depending on the state, hygienists mostly specialize in promoting oral health by carrying out state-regulated tasks.

Dental aides, on the other hand, do not mostly perform direct patient care. Instead, they are more involved in the preparatory phase of dental procedures and office management.

Dental assistant vs. Dental hygienist pay

Becoming a hygienist undoubtedly entails more responsibility. However, resultantly, the pay difference is significant, with a dental assistant approximately earning half of what a hygienist takes home. Additionally, dental aides have more limitations in the clinical setting as compared to hygienists, who can work more independently. 

But does that imply that a hygienist is more important than an assistant? No. Just as every organ in our bodies has a unique role to play, equally are the functions of the assistants and hygienists in the dental team.

They never override each other.  Instead, both play complementary roles in ensuring patients get the best oral treatment they deserve.


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