Accredited Dental Hygienist Programs | How to Become a Dental Hygienist near Elkton TN 38455

How to Find the Right Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Elkton 38455

dental assistant training in Elkton TNSelecting the right dental assistant program near Elkton TN is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than picking the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your home. There are other significant factors to take into account as well, including the college’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the 2 specializations you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you have to commit. The most common dental assistant program normally takes about 1 year to complete for a certificate or diploma. Meanwhile, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these concerns and additional questions that you should be asking the schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options offered.

The Duties of Dental Assistants

Elkton dental assistant helping dentist 38455Dental assistants are an essential part of any Elkton dental office and can carry out a myriad of tasks. Their main job description is to provide support to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice running successfully. A number of Tennessee dental assistants choose to specialize and earn certification in a specific area, for example periodontics. However the majority of assistants carry out any task that they are asked to complete, for example:

  • Scheduling and verifying appointments
  • Preparing patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
  • Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
  • Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
  • Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
  • Prepping X-ray machines and handling 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 working with X-ray machines more than 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 provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

The Duties of a Dental Hygienist

Elkton dental hygienist treating patient in TennesseeWhen comparing the role of a Elkton dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the Tennessee practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient’s gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:

  • Removing tartar, stains and plaque
  • Administering fluoride treatments
  • Applying sealants and polishing teeth
  • Instructing patients about oral hygiene
  • Taking X-rays and developing film
  • 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 Exam in addition to passing any state licensing exams. When 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 courses are provided at Tennessee junior colleges in addition to trade or vocational schools. The most typical credential attained is the certificate, which ordinarily 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 assisting courses. As a result of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are generally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually every state. They are also offered in community colleges and technical schools. Regardless of whether you are pursuing training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical aspect to the training also. Some programs also sponsor internships with Elkton area dental practices or dentists.

Dental Online Classes

attending dental assistant school online in Elkton homeSelecting an online dental assistant or hygienist school may be a viable alternative for obtaining your education. Just remember that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible via your personal computer in the comfort of your Elkton home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental classes make education far more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The practical training can often be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to receive the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you may find that attending an online dental program is the right choice for you.

What to Cover With Dental Assistant or Hygienist Programs

Questions to ask Tennessee dental colleges 38455After you have picked the dental specialty and kind of credential you would like to attain, you can begin the procedure of comparing Elkton area programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students start by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they search for some online options as well. Although these may be relevant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the Tennessee colleges you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the right dental school for you.

Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist or assistant program. If you are planning 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 ensure that the education you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Elkton area employers typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not available for non-accredited programs.

Is The Correct Dental Program Offered? You can decide to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just confirm that the college you choose offers the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the options are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to earn a living as a hygienist, many Elkton area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are offered. However, bear in mind that even if a college has a good reputation and accreditation does not mean all 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 only interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the best college for you.

Is Enough Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an important portion of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. Many Elkton area dental programs have relationships with local dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the school you choose provides adequate 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, verify that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a regional dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.

Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental colleges you are exploring have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal method to get hands-on, clinical experience in a real Elkton dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes too.

Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Many students that have graduated from dental hygiene or assistant schools require help landing their first job. Find out if the schools you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental profession in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.

Are Classes Smaller? Check with the Tennessee programs you are interested in how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes can be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the school that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the level of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.

 What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant programs can differ 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 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 commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of colleges, don’t forget to include all of the costs related to your education. Most colleges have financial aid departments, so make sure to ask what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 38455 area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental school, you must confirm that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and must attend classes near Elkton in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose 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 because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Pick the Ideal Dental College near Elkton TN

Choosing the right dental assistant or dental hygienist course is imperative if you wish to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several options available to obtain your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can obtain your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs typically receive either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be practicing in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require approximately 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When obtaining either a degree or a certificate you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of education 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 by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.

 

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