How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Training Program near Madison 39110
Choosing the ideal dental assistant college near Madison MS is an important initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than picking the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your residence. There are other significant factors to consider as well, including the school’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the 2 specialties you are most interested in getting training for, which may depend on the amount of money and time that you are willing to commit. The most common dental assistant program normally takes about 12 months to complete for a certificate or diploma. However, dental hygienists typically 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 expense. We will talk about all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the programs you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s review the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options offered.
The Duties of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an integral part of any Madison dental office and can perform a multitude of tasks. Their fundamental job description is to give assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice running successfully. Some Mississippi dental assistants opt to specialize and earn certification in a particular area, for example pediatrics. However most assistants carry out any duty that they are asked to fulfill, for example:
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Ordering dental and office supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so consult with the Mississippi dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines most likely will need to be certified and licensed. 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 Dental Hygienists
When comparing the role of a Madison dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and in support of the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the Mississippi practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing 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 must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination in addition to passing any state licensing examinations. After they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist and Assistant Education Options
Dental assistant programs are offered at Mississippi community colleges in addition to trade or vocational schools. The most frequent credential attained is the certificate, which generally takes about one year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more extensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. As a result of the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are generally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require anywhere from two to as long as three years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly every state. They are also offered in vocational schools and community colleges. Whether you are interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with Madison area dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Colleges
Choosing an online dental hygienist or assistant college might be a viable alternative for receiving your education. Just remember that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible via your personal computer in the comfort of your Madison home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition rates than their traditional counterparts. And supplementary expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The clinical training can usually be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to get the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this style of education, you may find that attending an dental online college is the ideal option for you.
Issues to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Colleges
Once you have selected the dental specialty and type of credential you want to attain, you can begin the procedure of comparing Madison area schools and programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many prospective students start by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they search for some online alternatives as well. Even though these are significant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the Mississippi programs you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the best dental college for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental assistant or hygienist program. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in almost all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the instruction you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Madison area employers typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not available for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Correct Dental Program Offered? You can choose to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make certain that the college you choose offers the program that you want. For the assistant program, the choices are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. If you want to work as a hygienist, many Madison area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are available. However, keep in mind that even if a college has a good reputation and accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college may have a solid accredited dental assistant program, but could 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 right school for you.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a vital part of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. Many Madison area dental colleges have relationships with area dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the program you enroll in provides 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 are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in an area dental office that specializes in dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental schools you are considering sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective way to get hands-on, practical experience in a real Madison dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental hygiene or assistant schools need assistance landing their first job. Find out if the colleges you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Small? Check with the Mississippi colleges you are evaluating how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal environment for training where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, larger classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a few 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 making a commitment.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene training can vary in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also have an impact. But along with 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 materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of schools, don’t forget to add all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance departments, so make sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 39110 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental college, you need to verify that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and need to go to classes near Madison in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Dental Program near Madison MSSelecting the right dental hygienist or dental assistant program is important if you want to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of options offered to receive your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs usually earn either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be working in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require about two years of studies before they enter the job market. When obtaining either a degree or a certificate you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever credential or mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal choice. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.