How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Azle 76020
Choosing the ideal dental assistant college near Azle TX is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than selecting the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your residence. There are other important issues to take into account as well, for instance 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 invest. The most common dental assistant program normally takes about 12 months to complete for a certificate or diploma. On the other hand, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. 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 programs you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options offered.
The Job of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an important component of any Azle dental office and can perform a variety of tasks. Their fundamental job description is to provide assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice operating successfully. Some Texas dental assistants opt to specialize and earn certification in a particular area, for example periodontics. However the majority of assistants perform any task that they are asked to fulfill, such as:
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Ordering office and dental supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so check with the Texas dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines most likely will need to be licensed and certified. Most dental assistants who are either required or choose to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Function of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the role of a Azle dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. As earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and in support of the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the Texas practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are frequently the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and present their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients about oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing in almost all states, dental hygienists must graduate from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam as well as any state licensure exams. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist and Assistant Training Options
Dental assistant programs are offered at Texas community colleges in addition to technical or vocational schools. The most common credential acquired is the certificate, which generally takes about 1 year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more expansive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. As a result of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are generally required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require anywhere from two to as long as three years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually every state. They are also offered in community colleges and technical schools. Regardless of whether you are pursuing training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical aspect to the training also. Some programs also offer internships with Azle area dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Programs
Choosing an online dental assistant or hygienist college can be a viable option for obtaining your education. Just remember that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Azle home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental classes make education far more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The clinical training can often be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to get the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you may find that enrolling in an online dental college is the right option for you.
Subjects to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Schools
Once you have selected the dental specialty and type of credential you want to earn, you can start the process of comparing Azle area programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many prospective students start by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they search for several online options as well. Even though these may be important initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the Texas colleges you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the right dental program for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist or assistant school. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the instruction you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Azle area employers frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not obtainable for non-accredited schools.
Is The Right Dental Program Offered? You can choose to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make sure that the school you select offers the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the choices are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to earn a living as a hygienist, many Azle area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not prevalent, are offered. However, bear in mind that even if a school has an excellent reputation and accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a strong accredited dental assistant program, but could 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 college for you.
Is Adequate Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a vital portion of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. Many Azle area dental colleges have relationships with area dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the college you select offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in an area dental office that specializes in dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental programs you are considering have an internship program. Internships are probably the best way to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a professional Azle dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Most graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant colleges require help getting their first job. Check if the programs you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Smaller? Find out from the Texas schools you are evaluating how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate atmosphere for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a couple of classes at the college that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant schools can fluctuate in cost depending on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of programs, don’t forget to add all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance offices, so make sure to check out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 76020 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental school, you need to confirm that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while acquiring your education and must go to classes near Azle in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.
Enroll in the Ideal Dental College near Azle TXSelecting the right dental hygienist or dental assistant program is important if you want to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous options available to acquire your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools typically obtain either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be working in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require roughly two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When obtaining either a certificate or a degree you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever credential or mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.