How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Training Program near Dartmouth 02714
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist college near Dartmouth MA is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than picking the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other important factors to take into account also, including the college’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 time and money that you have to commit. The most common dental assistant program normally takes about 12 months to finish for a diploma or certificate. Meanwhile, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the programs you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let’s look at the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options offered.
The Function of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an integral part of any Dartmouth dental office and can undertake a multitude of functions. Their fundamental job description is to give assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice running successfully. A number of Massachusetts dental assistants opt to specialize and receive certification in a particular area, for instance orthodontics. However most assistants perform any duty that they are asked to fulfill, including:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Readying patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- 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
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so check with the Massachusetts dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants working with X-ray machines most likely will have to be licensed and certified. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or decide 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 contrasting the job of a Dartmouth dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. As earlier mentioned, the dental assistant works with and assists the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the Massachusetts practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing patients regarding 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 also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination in addition to passing any state licensing examinations. After they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant and Hygienist Training Options
Dental assistant programs are offered at Massachusetts junior colleges in addition to trade or vocational schools. The most typical credential earned is the certificate, which generally takes about a year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more expansive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. Due to the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are generally 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 almost every state. They are also offered in trade schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical component to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with Dartmouth area dental practices or dentists.
Dental Online Programs
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist or assistant college might be a great option for receiving your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Dartmouth home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to college, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Some may even have lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced 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 necessary to receive the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you may find that attending an online dental school is the right option for you.
What to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Colleges
After you have selected the dental specialty and type of credential you would like to attain, you can start the process of comparing Dartmouth area programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many prospective students start by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they search for several online alternatives as well. Even though these may be important initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the Massachusetts colleges you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the ideal dental college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist or assistant college. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in nearly all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the education you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Dartmouth area employers frequently prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not available for non-accredited programs.
Is The Right Dental Program Offered? You can elect to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just verify that the college you choose offers 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 Dartmouth area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are available. However, bear in mind that just because 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 solid accredited dental assistant program, but could have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are solely interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the ideal school for you.
Is Enough Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an essential component of any dental training program. This holds true for the online college options also. Most Dartmouth area dental colleges have partnerships with area dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the school you choose provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the program you select offers clinical rotation in a regional dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental schools you are considering sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the best means to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Dartmouth 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 too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Most graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene programs require help getting their first job. Find out if the programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Small? Check with the Massachusetts colleges you are interested in how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal atmosphere for training where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a few classes at the college that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant colleges can vary in cost based on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of programs, remember to add all of the costs associated with your education. Most schools have financial assistance offices, so make sure to check out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 02714 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental school, you must make sure that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while acquiring your education and must go to classes near Dartmouth at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Find the Ideal Dental Program near Dartmouth MASelecting the right dental assistant or dental hygienist program is important if you intend to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several alternatives offered to receive your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can acquire your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs generally receive either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be practicing in as little as nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require about two years of studies before they enter the job market. When pursuing either a degree or a certificate you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. 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 start your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.