How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Georgetown 21930
Choosing the right dental assistant school near Georgetown MD is an essential initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must examine and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than selecting the school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your residence. There are other important issues to consider also, for instance the college’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specialties 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 typical dental assistant program normally takes about 12 months to finish for a diploma or certificate. However, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these issues and additional questions that you should be asking the colleges 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 Duties of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an indispensable component of any Georgetown dental practice and can carry out a wide range of duties. Their fundamental job description is to give support to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice working successfully. A number of Maryland dental assistants choose to specialize and earn certification in a particular area, for instance periodontics. However most assistants perform any task that they are asked to fulfill, for example:
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Purchasing dental and office supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so consult with the Maryland dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants handling 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 Function of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the duties of a Georgetown dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. As earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and in support of the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the Maryland practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients regarding oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing 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 in addition to passing any state licensing exams. Once they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist and Assistant Education Options
Dental assistant programs are available at Maryland junior colleges as well as trade or vocational schools. The most frequent credential acquired is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about one year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more expansive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. Due to the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are often 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 almost every state. They are also offered in trade schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are pursuing training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical component to the training as well. Many programs also sponsor internships with Georgetown area dentists or dental practices.
Dental Online Colleges
Selecting an online dental assistant or hygienist college may be a good option for receiving your education. Just remember that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Georgetown home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition costs than their on-campus counterparts. And supplementary expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The clinical training can usually be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to obtain the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you might find that attending an dental online program is the right option for you.
Questions to Ask 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 Georgetown area programs and schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students start by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they look for some online options as well. Even though these may be relevant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the Maryland programs you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the ideal dental program for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist or assistant college. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement 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 guarantee that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Georgetown area employers frequently desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Offered? You can opt to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just confirm that the school you choose has the program that you want. For the assistant program, the choices are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to earn a living as a hygienist, many Georgetown area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are offered. However, keep in mind that even if a college has an excellent reputation as well as accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college may have a strong accredited dental assistant program, but could have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are primarily interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the ideal school for you.
Is Enough Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a vital portion of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. Most Georgetown area dental schools have associations with regional dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the school you choose provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local dental office that specializes in dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental programs you are considering have internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective means to get hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Georgetown dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Many graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant programs need assistance landing their first job. Check if the colleges you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Smaller? Find out from the Maryland programs you are reviewing how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more personal setting 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 feasible, ask if you can attend a couple of classes at the college that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the degree of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene programs can fluctuate in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also come into play. But besides 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 schools, don’t forget to add all of the expenses associated with your education. Most schools have financial aid offices, so make sure to find out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 21930 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental school, you need to verify that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while receiving your education and need to attend classes near Georgetown at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family issues.
Pick the Ideal Dental Program near Georgetown MDEnrolling in the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant program is crucial if you want to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of options offered to obtain your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can obtain your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs normally 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 before they enter the job market. When earning either a degree or a certificate you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training or credential you elect to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal selection. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.