How to Enroll In a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Needham 02192
Selecting the ideal dental assistant program near Needham MA is an essential initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must assess and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than selecting the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other important factors to take into account as well, including the school’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in getting training for, which may depend on the amount of time and money that you have to commit. The most typical dental assistant program normally takes about 1 year to finish for a diploma or certificate. On the other hand, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these factors and additional questions that you need to be asking the programs you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s look at the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options available.
The Role of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an indispensable component of any Needham dental office and can undertake a myriad of functions. Their main job description is to provide assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice working efficiently. Some Massachusetts dental assistants choose to specialize and acquire certification in a particular area, for example periodontics. Even so most assistants carry out any task that they are called upon to complete, for example:
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Readying patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Purchasing office and dental supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so check with the Massachusetts dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines most likely will have to be certified and licensed. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or decide to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Function of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the duties of a Needham dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As previously mentioned, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the Massachusetts practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient’s teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed 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 exams. After they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant & Hygienist Training Options
Dental assistant programs are provided at Massachusetts junior colleges as well as technical or vocational schools. The most common credential attained is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about 1 year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more expansive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. As a result of the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are often required to have 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 nearly every state. They are also offered in community colleges and technical schools. Regardless of whether you are pursuing training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a clinical component to the training also. Many programs also sponsor internships with Needham area dentists or dental practices.
Dental Online Classes
Choosing an online dental assistant or hygienist college might be a great option for obtaining your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Needham home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending college, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Some may even charge lower tuition costs than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The clinical training can typically be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to receive the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you might find that enrolling in an online dental school is the right option for you.
What to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Schools
Once you have picked the dental specialty and kind of credential you wish to attain, you can start the process of comparing Needham area schools and programs. As we covered at the start of this article, many students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they look for some online alternatives also. Although these are important initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the Massachusetts programs you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the best dental school for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist or assistant college. If you are going 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 ensure that the education you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Needham area employers often desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Correct Dental Program Available? You can opt to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make sure that the school you select has the program that you want. For the assistant program, the choices are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. If you want to work as a hygienist, the majority of Needham area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are offered. However, bear in mind that even if a college has an exceptional reputation as well as accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a strong accredited dental assistant program, but might have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are only interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the right college for you.
Is Enough Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a vital part of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. Most Needham area dental programs have associations with regional dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only important that the college you select offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the school you select offers clinical rotation in a local dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental programs you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal method to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Needham dental practice. They help 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 too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Most graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant colleges require assistance getting their first job. Check if the programs you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental community as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Small? Ask the Massachusetts schools you are looking at how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal setting for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes tend to be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a couple of classes at the school that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant schools can fluctuate in cost dependent on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also have an impact. But besides 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 equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of programs, don’t forget to include all of the costs associated with your education. Most schools have financial aid offices, so be sure to check out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 02192 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental college, you must confirm that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and have to go to classes near Needham at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.
Select the Right Dental School near Needham MAEnrolling in the right dental hygienist or dental assistant course is crucial if you intend to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several options offered to obtain your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs generally obtain either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be working in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require about 2 years of studies prior to entering 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 education or credential you decide to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal choice. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.