How to Find the Right Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Bellingham 98225
Picking the ideal dental hygienist school near Bellingham WA is an essential initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than choosing the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other significant factors to consider as well, for instance the program’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in receiving training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you have to invest. The most common dental assistant program generally takes about one year to complete for a diploma or certificate. On the other hand, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to complete. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you should be asking the programs you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let’s review the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options offered.
The Function of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an integral part of any Bellingham dental practice and can perform a variety of functions. Their primary job description is to provide support to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice operating successfully. A number of Washington dental assistants elect to specialize and receive certification in a particular area, such as periodontics. Even so the majority of assistants perform any task that they are asked to complete, such as:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Purchasing dental and office supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so check with the Washington dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants working with X-ray machines more than likely will need to be licensed and certified. Most dental assistants who are either required or elect to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Duties of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the role of a Bellingham dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. As earlier mentioned, the dental assistant works with and in support of the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the Washington practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s teeth and gums and present their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients regarding oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed in nearly 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 examinations. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant & Hygienist Training Options
Dental assistant courses are offered at Washington community colleges along with technical or vocational schools. The most frequent credential earned is the certificate, which generally takes about one year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more comprehensive education, including 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 often 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 nearly every state. They are also offered in vocational schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical component to the training also. Some programs also offer internships with Bellingham area dentists or dental practices.
Dental Online Programs
Choosing an online dental hygienist or assistant program might be a good option for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Bellingham home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending school, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition costs than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The practical training can typically be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to get the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this style of learning, you may find that attending an dental online program is the ideal option for you.
Points to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Colleges
When you have selected the dental specialization and type of credential you would like to obtain, you can start the process of comparing Bellingham area schools and programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many potential students start by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they look for some online options also. Although these may be relevant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the Washington colleges you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the best dental school for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental assistant or hygienist program. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in virtually all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the instruction you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Bellingham area employers frequently desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not available for non-accredited schools.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Available? You can elect to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make certain that the college you select has the program that you want. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. If you want to earn a living as a hygienist, the majority of Bellingham area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are offered. However, bear in mind that just because a school has an excellent reputation and accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college may have a strong accredited dental assistant program, but could have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are only interested in a dental hygiene degree, naturally it would not be the best school for you.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a necessary portion of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. Most Bellingham area dental programs have associations with area dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the college you enroll in offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type 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 enroll in offers clinical rotation in an area dental office that specializes in dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental schools you are looking at sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the best method to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a real Bellingham 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 look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental assistant or hygiene programs require help obtaining their first job. Check if the colleges you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental community in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Ask the Washington schools you are evaluating how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes generally offer a more personal setting for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, bigger classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can monitor a couple of classes at the school that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene programs can differ in cost depending on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools 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 costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of programs, remember to add all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial aid offices, so be sure to check out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 98225 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental school, you must make sure that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while getting your education and need to attend classes near Bellingham in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Select the Best Dental College near Bellingham WASelecting the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist course is imperative if you want to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many alternatives offered to obtain your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can acquire your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs 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 work force. When obtaining either a certificate or a degree you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training or credential you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the right selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.