How to Pick a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Juneau 99801
Picking the ideal dental assistant college near Juneau AK is an essential first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than picking the school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other significant factors to take into account also, such as the college’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you are willing to invest. The most typical dental assistant program usually takes about 12 months to complete for a diploma or certificate. However, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these considerations and additional questions that you need to be asking the schools you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let’s review the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options provided.
The Duties of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an important part of any Juneau dental practice and can perform a multitude of tasks. Their principal job description is to furnish assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice running efficiently. Some Alaska dental assistants choose to specialize and obtain certification in a particular area, for instance pediatrics. Even so most assistants perform any duty that they are asked to fulfill, including:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Providing 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 deviate by state, so consult with the Alaska dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants handling X-ray machines more than likely will have to be certified and licensed. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or choose to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Duties of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the job of a Juneau dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is undoubtedly 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 Alaska practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently 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 can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating 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 also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam as well as any state licensing examinations. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered 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 available at Alaska community colleges as well as vocational or technical schools. The most common credential attained is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about 1 year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more expansive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. Because of the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices are normally required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly every state. They are also offered in trade schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are pursuing training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a clinical aspect to the training also. Some programs also sponsor internships with Juneau area dental practices or dentists.
Dental Online Colleges
Choosing an online dental assistant or hygienist school might be a great 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 by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Juneau home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The practical training can usually be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to obtain the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you may find that enrolling in an online dental school is the ideal choice for you.
Points to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Schools
When you have decided on the dental specialization and kind of credential you want to attain, you can start the procedure of comparing Juneau area programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they look for some online options also. Although these are important initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the Alaska schools you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the right dental college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist or assistant program. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in almost 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 establish that the instruction you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Juneau area employers frequently prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited programs.
Is The Proper Dental Program Available? You can decide to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just confirm that the school you decide on has the program that you want. For the assistant program, the choices are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. In order to work as a hygienist, most Juneau area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are offered. However, keep 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 college may have a solid accredited dental assistant program, but may have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are just interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the ideal school for you.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an essential component of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. Most Juneau area dental programs have relationships with regional dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the school you enroll in offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the school you select offers clinical rotation in a regional dental office that focuses on dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental programs you are exploring have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective method to receive hands-on, practical experience in a professional Juneau 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 look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Most graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene colleges need assistance obtaining their first job. Ask if the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental profession as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Smaller? Ask the Alaska schools you are evaluating how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more personal environment for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, bigger classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a few classes at the college that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene colleges can fluctuate in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, don’t forget to add all of the costs associated with your education. Most colleges have financial assistance departments, so make sure to check out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 99801 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental school, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and need to go to classes near Juneau at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Find the Ideal Dental School near Juneau AKEnrolling in the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant program is important if you wish to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of alternatives available to receive your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can receive your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs normally 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 approximately two years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing either a degree or a certificate you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever credential or mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the right selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.