How to Pick a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Ardmore 73401
Choosing the ideal dental assistant program near Ardmore OK is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than selecting the school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your residence. There are other important issues to take into account as well, including the college’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the 2 specialties you are most interested in receiving training for, which may depend on the amount of money and time that you have to commit. The most common dental assistant program usually takes about 1 year to finish for a diploma or certificate. However, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these factors and additional questions that you need to be asking the colleges you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s explore the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options available.
The Role of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an integral component of any Ardmore dental practice and can undertake a variety of tasks. Their primary job description is to provide support to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice working efficiently. Many Oklahoma dental assistants elect to specialize and earn certification in a specific area, such as orthodontics. However most assistants carry out any duty that they are asked to fulfill, such as:
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Readying patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Purchasing dental and office supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so check with the Oklahoma dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines more than likely will need to be certified and licensed. Most dental assistants who are either required or elect to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Job of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the role of a Ardmore dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As earlier mentioned, the dental assistant works with and in support of the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the Oklahoma practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are frequently the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients regarding oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
To qualify for licensing in almost all states, dental hygienists must have graduated from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination in addition to passing any state licensure exams. Once they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant & Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant programs are provided at Oklahoma junior colleges along with vocational or technical schools. The most frequent credential earned is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about a year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more comprehensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. Due to the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are usually required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take anywhere from two to as long as three years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly every state. They are also offered in vocational schools and community colleges. Whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical aspect to the training as well. Some programs also sponsor internships with Ardmore area dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Training Programs
Choosing an online dental assistant or hygienist program might be a great option for obtaining your training. Just remember that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Ardmore home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental classes make education far more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The clinical training can usually be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to get the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you may find that attending an dental online college is the ideal choice for you.
Topics to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Colleges
Once you have decided on the dental specialty and type of credential you want to obtain, you can start the procedure of comparing Ardmore area schools and programs. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many potential students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Possibly they search for several online options also. Although these may be significant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you should address to the Oklahoma programs you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental program for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist or assistant college. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in nearly all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the training you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Ardmore area employers typically desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not obtainable for non-accredited programs.
Is The Right Dental Program Available? You can opt to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just verify that the college you choose offers the program that you want. For the assistant program, the choices are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. In order to work as a hygienist, many Ardmore area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are offered. However, keep in mind that just because a college has a good reputation and accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college may have a solid accredited dental assistant program, but might have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are just interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the right school for you.
Is Adequate Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a necessary portion of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. Most Ardmore area dental schools have partnerships with area dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the school you select provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the program you select offers clinical rotation in an area dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental programs you are looking at have internship programs. Internships are probably the best means to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Ardmore dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Most graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene programs need help landing their first job. Find out if the programs you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental profession as well as broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Small? Ask the Oklahoma schools you are looking at how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes generally offer a more personal setting for training where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can monitor a few classes at the school that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene programs can fluctuate in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of programs, remember to include all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance departments, so be sure to check out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 73401 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental college, you need to verify that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while getting your education and have to attend classes near Ardmore in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Find the Best Dental School near Ardmore OKChoosing the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant program is important if you want to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several options offered to acquire your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools normally earn either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be working in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists typically require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When obtaining either a certificate or a degree you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of education or credential you elect to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the right choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.