Dental Hygiene vs. Nursing (Diff, Simi, FAQs)

The healthcare sector is one of the most diversified industries in the world today. This field offers lots of career options, like dental hygiene and nursing.

Dental hygiene and nursing are two professions that are closely related to one another because both  professions are concerned with looking after the welfare of patients.

Nevertheless, they are different from one another. Thus, if you are aspiring to build a career in the healthcare industry and you are torn between choosing a career pathway in dental hygiene or nursing, this article is highly recommended for you.

It will talk about the differences between the two jobs and give advice on how to have a successful career in the healthcare field.

What is Dental Hygiene?

Dental hygiene is the practice of taking care of people’s mouths, gums, and teeth in order to keep their mouths, gums, and teeth healthy.

This field is vital to the overall health of people as it keeps them from contracting infections. Dental hygienists assess teeth for possible harm and treat them immediately.

Also, these professionals teach people how to keep their teeth healthy all the time.

What is Nursing?

Nursing is a technical profession that is concerned with the delivery of healthcare to patients suffering from one form of medical illness or another.

This profession is concerned with the evaluation of patients to ascertain the steps that can be taken to enhance or sustain their health, and they achieve this by working together with doctors, physical therapists, and several other professionals working in medical settings.

Moreover, nursing is a profession that is also concerned with the innovation of members of society on health issues and how they can protect themselves from contracting these diseases.

Nurses also mentor people on how to take their medications properly, maintain a healthy feeding plan, and apply first aid.

In addition to these, nurses motivate patients to get back on their feet and assist patients with all the help they need if they are not able to do things on their own when they fall sick.

Dental Hygiene vs. Nursing

Differences Between Dental Hygiene And Nursing

Dental hygiene and nursing may be closely related to one another. However, these fields are different from one another in the following ways:

1. Education

To practice as a dental hygienist, one must earn an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene.

These programs can be completed in not more than 4 years. Students are exposed to practical and theoretical coursework that equips them with the knowledge and skills required for the area of specialization.

Some of the courses they take include dental anatomy, community dental health, oral pathology, and lots more.

After completing their education, graduates of dental hygiene programs must obtain a license to practice, and the requirements for licensure differ from state to state.

On the other hand, to become a nurse, one must obtain an associate or bachelor’s degree in nursing.

While the associate degree can be completed in at most three years, the bachelor’s degree in nursing can be earned in four years.

Moreover, holders of an associate’s degree in nursing can only use it to land low-level jobs within medical settings.

However, bachelor of nursing degree holders enjoy more job opportunities in the medical field than associate degree holders, and most of the jobs available to them come with better salaries and allowances.

Graduates of nursing school need to pass the NCLEX-RN exam and get a license to work as a nurse.

2. Area of expertise

In some states, dental hygienists can complete extra courses to expand their areas of specialization.

Most dental hygienists always take courses that will make them become dental therapists, who are professionals authorized to get rid of sutures, remove first teeth, and place fillings.

Nurses, on the other hand, can specialize in a particular area of expertise by completing a master’s degree program or gaining lots of experience serving in a specific hospital unit.

Some of the common areas of expertise for nurses include: cardiac nursing, critical care nursing, certified registered nurse anesthetisia (CRNA), clinical nurse specialiaty (CNS), and many others.

3. Work environment

Dental hygienists are commonly employed to work in dental health centers, and most of the time, they work based on shifts.

On the other hand, nurses usually do their jobs in hospitals, but they also usually work in shifts.

4. Daily roles

Dental hygienists are professionals that perform more of a technical job that involves job repetitions.

They sanitize the instruments they use to work, assess patients, and provide the required medical care to them.

They basically have to handle only one patient for under 60 minutes.

On the contrary, nurses perform a lot of duties, but their tasks depend on the nature of the health challenge facing patients.

These professionals can look after more than six patients simultaneously.

5. Salary

According to research, dental hygienists earn an annual salary of about $80,000.

But it is known that this number will go up or down depending on the level of experience and the areas of expertise.

On the contrary, nurses are normally placed on an annual salary of about $80,000.

However, one of the reasons why this profession is very attractive is the fact that nurses are always placed on extra allowances of about $12,000 yearly.

Moreover, the salary a nurse would receive is solely dependent on their years of experience, the industry where they work, and their area of expertise.

Tips for building a successful career in the medical field

Growing a career in the medical field is very taxing. This is because there is lots of competition in the health sector, like dental hygiene and nursing are very high.

However, as a recently licensed dental hygienist or nurse, you can grow your career successfully by applying the tips below:

1. Do some homework

Before you pick an area of expertise, ensure that you spend enough time in hospitals and work closely with experts that specialize in your preferred area of expertise.

Moreover, carry out extensive research and understand the opportunities available for you in that area of expertise and other things that you stand to gain.

This will help you to make the right choice and pick an area that suits you perfectly.

2. Have a mentor

Having a mentor in the industry is another thing that will enable you to build a successful career in the medical field.

You should always have a field expert that you can always speak to for advice before taking any important career step.

Mentors can also be helpful in other ways, like recommending you for jobs or exposing you to some research projects that will boost your knowledge of the field.

3. Always seek to advance your academics

Acquiring advanced education in your field of medical practice is a factor that facilitates career success.

Once you’ve earned your degree, make sure to continue your education as soon as possible by obtaining advanced degrees all the way up to the doctorate level.

This will allow you to have a broader knowledge of the field and offer you the opportunity to complete ground-breaking research studies that could put you in the spotlight for good.

4. Don’t miss important events

Another thing that will boost your career progress is turning up to important events organized in your industry. It gives you a chance to meet industry professionals and find out what’s new in the field.

5. Always look to establish a strong network

Building the right network in the field can facilitate career advancement.

Keeping tabs with the people at the top of your profession could provide you with an opportunity to join research groups or teams that are striving to solve an industry-based challenge.

Still, you can build a good network in your field by joining professional groups and connecting with experts through social media sites like LinkedIn or Xing.

6. Be a good communicator

Having excellent communication and interpersonal skills is required for career success in the field of medicine.

Thus, as a dental hygienist or nurse, please ensure that you use great interpersonal skills to relate with patients in the field at all times.

No matter how complicated the situation is, you should find a way to communicate with your patients and help them understand the problem they are facing.

7. Stay organized

Professionals in the medical field attend to lots of people every day.

However, as a dental hygienist or nurse, keeping good records and organizing files properly will make you a better professional and create a good impression on those under you.

Frequently Asked Questions on Dental Hygiene vs. Nursing

What is the importance of dental hygiene?

Practicing good dental hygiene will save your teeth and gums from decay and disease. If not addressed, cavities and gum disease can have devastating effects on a person’s oral health.

Why do dental hygienists make so much money?

Since dental hygienists are highly trained specialists, they command high salaries. Taking care of one’s teeth and gums is essential; neglecting this area increases one’s risk of dental disorders and other severe illnesses like diabetes and heart disease.

What is the work of the nurse?

Nurses care for injuries, dispense prescriptions, do medical exams, record complete medical histories, monitor heart rate and blood pressure, run diagnostic tests, operate medical equipment, and take blood.

What is the color for nursing?

Nurses typically wear light blue scrubs so that they can be distinguished from doctors and surgeons.


Dental hygiene and nursing are two professions in the health sector that are closely related to one another.

However, the two career pathways are different from one another and are concerned with different practices.

Furthermore, dental hygienists earn a lower salary than dental hygienists, and their work environment is slightly different.

Nevertheless, learning how to manage the workload you have, keeping the personal details of patients discreet, and keeping a flexible work schedule are other tips that will enable you to build a successful career in the medical industry.

Awesome one; I hope this article answers your question.

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