Top Dental Assistant Colleges | How to Become a Dental Assistant near Kobuk AK 99751

How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Kobuk 99751

dental assistant training in Kobuk AKChoosing the right dental assistant school near Kobuk AK is an important first step toward launching 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 performing your due diligence than picking the program with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your home. There are other significant issues to take into account as well, such as the school’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 specialties you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may be contingent on the amount of time and money that you are willing to invest. The most typical dental assistant program generally takes about 1 year to complete for a certificate or diploma. On the other hand, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the schools you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let’s look at the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options provided.

The Function of a Dental Assistant

Kobuk dental assistant helping dentist 99751Dental assistants are an important part of any Kobuk dental practice and can perform a wide range of duties. Their fundamental job description is to provide assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice running efficiently. Some Alaska dental assistants elect to specialize and earn certification in a specific area, for example pediatrics. Even so most assistants carry out any job that they are called upon to fulfill, such as:

  • Scheduling and confirming appointments
  • Readying 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
  • Ordering dental and office supplies

Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so consult with the Alaska dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants working with X-ray machines more than likely will need to be licensed and certified. Most dental assistants who are either required or choose to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

The Function of a Dental Hygienist

Kobuk dental hygienist treating patient in AlaskaWhen contrasting the duties of a Kobuk dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. As earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the Alaska 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 report their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:

  • Removing stains, tartar and plaque
  • Applying fluoride treatments
  • Applying sealants and polishing teeth
  • Teaching patients regarding oral care
  • Taking X-rays and developing film
  • Removing sutures and applying fillings

To qualify for licensing in nearly all states, dental hygienists must graduate from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam as well as any state licensure exams. Once they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Assistant & Hygienist Education Options

Dental assistant courses are available at Alaska community 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 fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more extensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. Due to the increased 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 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 practical aspect to the training also. Many programs also offer internships with Kobuk area dental practices or dentists.

Dental Online Programs

attending dental assistant school online in Kobuk homeSelecting an online dental assistant or hygienist program may be a viable alternative for receiving your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Kobuk home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to college, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The clinical training can often be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to get the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you may find that enrolling in an online dental college is the ideal option for you.

Issues to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Programs

Questions to ask Alaska dental colleges 99751When you have decided on the dental specialty and type of credential you want to attain, you can begin the process of comparing Kobuk area schools and programs. As we discussed at the start of this article, many prospective students start by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they look for several online alternatives also. Although these are important initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the Alaska schools you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental program for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist or assistant school. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the education you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Kobuk area employers typically desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not offered for non-accredited programs.

Is The Right Dental Program Available? You can decide to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make sure that the school you decide on has the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the choices are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. If you want to earn a living as a hygienist, many Kobuk area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are available. However, keep in mind that just because 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 may have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are just interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the right school for you.

Is Plenty of Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an important part of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. Many Kobuk area dental schools have relationships with local dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the college you select provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the college 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 evaluating sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal means to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a professional Kobuk dental practice. They help 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 too.

Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Many students that have graduated from dental hygiene or assistant colleges need help getting their first job. Find out if the programs you are considering have job placement 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 refer their students for internships or employment.

Are the Classes Smaller? Ask the Alaska colleges you are reviewing how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal environment for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the college that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.

 What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene training can fluctuate in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of colleges, don’t forget to include all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance departments, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 99751 area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental college, you must confirm that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while getting your education and must go to classes near Kobuk in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still have 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 because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Pick the Best Dental School near Kobuk AK

Enrolling in the right dental assistant or dental hygienist course is crucial if you wish to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous options available to receive your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can acquire your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools usually 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 normally require approximately 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When earning either a degree or a certificate you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever credential or mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.

 

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