Yes there is a BIG difference between DAs and DHs!!!
D. assistants only assist dentists, orthodontists, endodontists, etc. They get paid only 12 to 20 dollars per hour depending on experience and where you live. Most make about 15-18 an hour on average.
And DAs can be trained on the job, you dont need to go to school for it. BUT Certified DAs (meaning they took a national written exam after going through a 1 year program) are hired more often than people who have not become certified.
A DH is a COLLEGE graduate. To become a D. hygienist you must go to a 2 year college for an associates in hygiene OR a 4 year college for a Bachelors in hygiene (you only need 2 years to work in private practice. BS degrees are basically pointless for hygienists, a waste of time and money).
Hygienists usually do not make 60,000. They make about 30,000 to 50,000 depending on experience and which state they are in.
Hygienists do not assist dentists. (which comes down to about 25 to 40 dollars an hour. Most make about 30-38 an hour depending on the state and experience). They work on their own cleaning patient's teeth and educating the patients about oral care.
The difference is that DAs work along side the dentist (actually sitting there handing instruments during procedures) and hygienists do not. Hygienists work on patient's alone cleaning teeth, examining the patient's mouth, and placing sealants and fluoride treatments to kids.
And DAs are trained on the job or get a 1 year certificate.
DHs MUST get a college degree (exception is in Texas and Alabama they now allow DHs to be trained on the job which is scary because it means their DHs are unqualified). Always insist on a DH working on you that has a college degree (which is the law in every other state besides the 2 I mentioned above).
If you are interested in the dental field I suggest you enroll in a local COMMUNITY COLLEGE that offers DA and DH programs. Enroll in the 1 year DA program and then when you finish you can work right away as a DA. AND if you are interested in becoming a DH you can apply to that same college's DH program and you are more likely to get in as one of their DA graduates. Also in the community colleges the DAs take a few of the SAME classes as the DHs so that you can get some of those out of the way if you later enroll in the DH program, which makes it easier for you.
Im a licensed hygienist