How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Belmont 99104
Choosing the right dental hygienist program near Belmont WA is an important initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than picking the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your home. There are other important issues to consider also, including the program’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specialties you are most interested in receiving training for, which may depend on the amount of money and time that you are willing to commit. The most typical dental assistant program generally takes about 12 months to finish for a certificate or diploma. However, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to finish. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these considerations and additional questions that you need to be asking the colleges you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options provided.
The Role of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an integral part of any Belmont dental office and can undertake a multitude of duties. Their principal job description is to give support to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice working efficiently. Many Washington dental assistants choose to specialize and receive certification in a particular area, for instance orthodontics. Even so most assistants carry out any job that they are called upon to complete, for example:
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Readying patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Ordering dental and office supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so consult with the Washington dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants handling X-ray machines most likely will need to be certified and licensed. Most dental assistants who are either required or choose to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Job of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the duties of a Belmont dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main 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 assisting the Washington practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing patients about oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- 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 as well as any state licensure examinations. After they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist & Assistant Education Options
Dental assistant programs are offered at Washington junior colleges in addition to trade or vocational schools. The most frequent credential attained is the certificate, which generally takes about one year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more comprehensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. Because of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental practices 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 finish and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually every state. They are also offered in trade schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical component to the training as well. Some programs also offer internships with Belmont area dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Colleges
Selecting an online dental hygienist or assistant college can be a great option for receiving your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Belmont home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to college, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Many may even charge lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The practical training can usually be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to obtain the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you might find that enrolling in an online dental program is the right option for you.
Points to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Colleges
Once you have picked the dental specialization and type of credential you want to attain, you can begin the process of comparing Belmont area programs and schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they look for some online alternatives also. Even though these may be significant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the Washington colleges you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the ideal dental school for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental assistant or hygienist program. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in virtually all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the education you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Belmont area employers often desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not available for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Offered? You can opt to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just verify that the school you select has the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the options are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. If you want to work as a hygienist, the majority of Belmont area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are available. However, bear in mind that just because a school has a good 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 may have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are solely interested in a dental hygiene degree, naturally it would not be the ideal college for you.
Is Enough Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an important part of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. A number of Belmont area dental programs have associations with regional dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the college you select offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in an area dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental colleges you are evaluating have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective method to get hands-on, clinical experience in a real Belmont dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Most students that have graduated from dental assistant or hygiene colleges need help getting their first job. Ask if the programs you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental community in addition to large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Find out from the Washington schools you are interested in how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal setting for training where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the college that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the amount of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene programs can fluctuate in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant costs 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 schools, remember to add all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance departments, so make sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 99104 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental college, you need to verify that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while acquiring your education and must go to classes near Belmont in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still need 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 issues.
Enroll in the Right Dental College near Belmont WAEnrolling in the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant program is crucial if you intend to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous alternatives available to obtain your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental programs at community 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 nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require approximately two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When pursuing either a degree or a certificate you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of education or credential you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the best selection. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.