How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Mercer 54547
Selecting the ideal dental assistant program near Mercer WI is an essential initial 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 far more to doing your due diligence than selecting the college with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your residence. There are other crucial factors to consider as well, including the school’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specialties you are most interested in receiving training for, which may depend on the amount of time and money that you have to commit. The most common dental assistant program generally takes about one year to finish for a certificate or diploma. However, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these factors and additional questions that you should be asking the colleges you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s look at the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options provided.
The Role of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an indispensable part of any Mercer dental practice and can undertake a wide range of functions. Their main job description is to provide assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice operating successfully. Some Wisconsin dental assistants opt to specialize and acquire certification in a specific area, such as orthodontics. However the majority of assistants perform any duty that they are asked to complete, for example:
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Ordering dental and office supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so check with the Wisconsin dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines most likely will need to be certified and licensed. Many dental assistants who are either required or elect to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Role of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the job of a Mercer dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. As previously mentioned, the dental assistant works with and in support of the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the Wisconsin practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and report their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients regarding oral hygiene
- 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 licensure examinations. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant & Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant courses are offered at Wisconsin community colleges as well as technical or vocational schools. The most frequent credential attained is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about one year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more extensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. Due to the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices are often required to hold 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 virtually 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 component to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with Mercer area dentists or dental practices.
Dental Online Colleges
Choosing an online dental assistant or hygienist college might be a good option for receiving your education. Just remember that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Mercer home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending school, online dental classes make education a lot more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The practical training can typically be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to receive the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this mode of education, you might find that enrolling in an online dental college is the best choice for you.
Points to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Colleges
Once you have picked the dental specialty and kind of credential you would like to obtain, you can start the procedure of comparing Mercer 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. Maybe they look for several online options also. Although these may be significant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the Wisconsin schools you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the best dental college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only select an accredited dental assistant or hygienist program. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in virtually all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the education you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Mercer area employers typically desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited schools.
Is The Right Dental Program Available? You can opt to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make certain that the college you decide on offers the program that you want. For the assistant program, the choices are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to have a career as a hygienist, the majority of Mercer area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are available. However, keep in mind that just because a college has an exceptional 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 solely interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the best school for you.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a vital part of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. Most Mercer area dental colleges have relationships with local dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only important that the college you choose offers sufficient 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, check that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental programs you are looking at sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective method to get hands-on, practical experience in a real Mercer dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Most graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant colleges require help landing their first job. Check if the programs you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental profession in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Smaller? Check with the Wisconsin schools you are reviewing how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal setting for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can monitor a couple of classes at the school that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene training can vary in cost dependent on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, don’t forget to add all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial aid offices, so make sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 54547 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental school, you need to confirm that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and need to attend classes near Mercer at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Dental School near Mercer WIPicking the right dental hygienist or dental assistant program is important if you wish to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many options offered to obtain your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs generally obtain either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be working in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require about two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When pursuing either a degree or a certificate you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of education or credential you decide to pursue, by addressing 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 start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.