How to Find the Right Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Fairfield 27826
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist college near Fairfield NC is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than selecting the college with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your residence. There are other crucial issues to consider as well, such as the program’s reputation and accreditation. 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 invest. The most common dental assistant program usually takes about 12 months to finish for a diploma or certificate. However, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these issues and supplemental questions that you should be asking the schools you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let’s review the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options available.
The Role of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an important part of any Fairfield dental practice and can perform a variety of functions. Their principal job description is to give assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice working efficiently. Some North Carolina dental assistants choose to specialize and acquire certification in a specific area, such as periodontics. However most assistants perform any task that they are asked to fulfill, for example:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Purchasing dental and office supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so consult with the North Carolina dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines most likely will need to be certified and licensed. Most 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 Duties of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the role of a Fairfield dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. As earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the North Carolina practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the first person a patient sees 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 plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients about oral care
- 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 Examination as well as any state licensing examinations. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist & Assistant Training Options
Dental assistant courses are provided at North Carolina junior colleges as well as vocational or technical schools. The most common credential attained is the certificate, which generally takes about a year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more extensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. Due to the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are usually required to hold 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 almost every state. They are also offered in vocational schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are pursuing training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical component to the training also. A number of programs also offer internships with Fairfield area dentists or dental practices.
Dental Online Training
Choosing an online dental assistant or hygienist college can be a good option for receiving your education. 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 available via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Fairfield home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental classes make education far more obtainable. Many may even charge lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The clinical training can usually be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to obtain the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this method of education, you might find that enrolling in an dental online program is the right option for you.
What to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Colleges
When you have decided on the dental specialization and kind of credential you wish to earn, you can start the procedure of comparing Fairfield area programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many students start by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they search for several online alternatives also. Even though these are important initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the North Carolina programs you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the ideal dental college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental assistant or hygienist school. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the education you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Fairfield area employers typically prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not offered for non-accredited schools.
Is The Right Dental Program Available? You can decide to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make certain that the college you select offers the program that you want. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to earn a living as a hygienist, most Fairfield area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, bear in mind that even if a school has an exceptional reputation as well as accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college may have a strong accredited dental assistant program, but might have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are primarily interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the ideal school for you.
Is Enough Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an essential component of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. Many Fairfield area dental colleges have partnerships with area dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the program you enroll in offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in a local dental office that focuses on dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental programs you are evaluating sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective means to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a real Fairfield dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Many students that have graduated from dental hygiene or assistant schools require help landing their first job. Find out if the programs you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental community as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Small? Ask the North Carolina colleges you are reviewing how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal atmosphere for training where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor 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 making a commitment.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant programs can vary in cost based on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also have an impact. 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 materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of programs, remember to include all of the costs related to your education. Most schools have financial assistance offices, so be sure to check out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 27826 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental college, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and need to go to classes near Fairfield in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Dental Program near Fairfield NCEnrolling in the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist course is important if you intend to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are many options offered 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 junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs generally obtain either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be practicing in as little as nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require approximately 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When earning 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 presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the best choice. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.