How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Chapel Hill 37034
Selecting the right dental assistant program near Chapel Hill TN is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must examine and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than choosing the school with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your residence. There are other important issues to take into account also, such as the school’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in getting training for, which may be contingent on the amount of time and money that you have to commit. The most common dental assistant program generally takes about one year to complete for a certificate or diploma. Meanwhile, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to finish. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these issues and supplemental questions that you should be asking the programs you are assessing later in this article. But first, let’s review the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options available.
The Duties of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an integral part of any Chapel Hill dental office and can undertake a multitude of functions. Their fundamental job description is to provide support to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice running efficiently. A number of Tennessee dental assistants choose to specialize and acquire certification in a particular area, such as periodontics. Even so the majority of assistants perform any duty 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
- Prepping X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Ordering office and dental supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so consult with the Tennessee dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines most likely will have to be licensed and certified. A large number of 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 Role of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the job of a Chapel Hill dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the Tennessee practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are frequently the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and report their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing patients about oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
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 as well as any state licensing exams. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant & Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant programs are offered at Tennessee community colleges in addition to technical or vocational schools. The most common credential attained is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about 1 year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more expansive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. Due to the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices are usually required to hold 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. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical component to the training also. Many programs also sponsor internships with Chapel Hill area dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Training Programs
Selecting an online dental assistant or hygienist college might be a great option for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Chapel Hill home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Some may even have lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The clinical training can typically 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 dedication for this mode of education, you might find that attending an dental online school is the ideal option for you.
What to Cover With Dental Assistant or Hygienist Colleges
Once you have selected the dental specialty and kind of credential you would like to obtain, you can start the process of comparing Chapel Hill area programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, a number of students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Possibly they look for several online alternatives also. Although these may be important initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the Tennessee programs you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the right dental school for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist or assistant school. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in virtually all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the training you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Chapel Hill area employers typically prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not offered for non-accredited programs.
Is The Proper Dental Program Offered? You can elect to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just verify that the college you select offers the program that you want. For the assistant program, the options are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. In order to have a career as a hygienist, most Chapel Hill area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are offered. However, bear in mind that just because a college has an exceptional 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 only interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the best school for you.
Is Enough Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a necessary part of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. A number of Chapel Hill area dental programs have partnerships with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the school you select offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in a local dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental schools you are looking at have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective way to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a professional Chapel Hill dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental assistant or hygiene colleges require help obtaining their first job. Check if the schools you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Check with the Tennessee programs you are interested in how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal environment for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a couple of classes at the school that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the amount of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant programs can differ in cost dependent on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include expenses 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 include all of the costs related to your education. Most colleges have financial aid offices, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 37034 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental college, you need to verify that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and need to attend classes near Chapel Hill in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Dental School near Chapel Hill TNChoosing the right dental assistant or dental hygienist course is crucial if you wish to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of alternatives offered to acquire your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can acquire your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools usually earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be working in as little as nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require about two years of studies before they enter the job market. When pursuing either a degree or a certificate you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever credential or mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking 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.