How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Big Pine Key 33043
Picking the right dental hygienist program near Big Pine Key FL is an essential first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than picking the school with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your residence. There are other important factors to take into account as well, including the college’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 specializations you are most interested in getting training for, which may depend on the amount of money and time that you are willing to commit. The most typical dental assistant program usually takes about 1 year to complete for a certificate or diploma. On the other hand, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to complete. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you should be asking the schools you are evaluating 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 Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an integral component of any Big Pine Key dental office and can perform a multitude of duties. Their primary job description is to give assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice running efficiently. A number of Florida dental assistants choose to specialize and acquire certification in a particular area, for instance pediatrics. However most assistants carry out any task that they are asked to fulfill, for example:
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Ordering office and dental supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so check with the Florida dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants working with X-ray machines most likely will need to be certified and licensed. Most dental assistants who are either required or decide to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Job of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the job of a Big Pine Key dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. As earlier mentioned, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the Florida practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing patients about oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- 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 Exam as well as any state licensing examinations. When they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist and Assistant Training Options
Dental assistant courses are provided at Florida junior colleges along with trade or vocational schools. The most common credential acquired is the certificate, which generally takes about a year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more extensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. As a result of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices are usually 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. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical component to the training also. Many programs also offer internships with Big Pine Key area dentists or dental practices.
Dental Online Classes
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist or assistant program may be a good alternative for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Big Pine Key home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental classes make education far more accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition costs than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The practical training can typically be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to receive the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you might find that attending an dental online school is the ideal option for you.
What to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Schools
After you have selected the dental specialty and type of credential you want to attain, you can start the process of comparing Big Pine Key area schools and programs. As we covered at the opening 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 options also. Even though these are relevant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the Florida colleges you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the ideal dental program for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist or assistant program. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in almost all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the training you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Big Pine Key area employers typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not provided for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Right Dental Program Available? You can choose to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make certain that the college you select has the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. In order to work as a hygienist, most Big Pine Key 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 a good reputation and accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a solid accredited dental assistant program, but may have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are only interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the right school for you.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an important component of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. Many Big Pine Key area dental schools have relationships with area dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the program you enroll in provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a regional dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental schools you are evaluating sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal way to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Big Pine Key dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Many graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant schools need assistance landing their first job. Ask if the colleges you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Small? Check with the Florida colleges you are interested in how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more intimate setting for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes can be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a few classes at the school that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant colleges can fluctuate in cost dependent on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other significant costs 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 examining the cost of schools, don’t forget to add all of the costs related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance departments, so be sure to find out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 33043 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental college, you must verify that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while getting your education and must attend classes near Big Pine Key in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still have 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 because of illness, work or family issues.
Find the Right Dental Program near Big Pine Key FLSelecting the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist program is crucial if you want to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous options offered to acquire your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can receive your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs typically 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 two years of studies before they enter the job market. When pursuing either a degree or a certificate you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of education or credential you elect to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.