Accredited Dental Assistant Colleges | How to Become a Dental Hygienist near O Fallon MO 63366

How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near O Fallon 63366

dental assistant training in O Fallon MOChoosing the right dental hygienist program near O Fallon MO is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must examine and compare your school options. There is much more to completing 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 crucial issues to consider also, such as the college’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 specialties you are most interested in receiving training for, which may be contingent on the amount of time and money that you are willing to invest. The most common dental assistant program usually takes about 12 months to finish for a certificate or diploma. Meanwhile, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the programs you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let’s look at the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options offered.

The Role of Dental Assistants

O Fallon dental assistant helping dentist 63366Dental assistants are an important part of any O Fallon dental office and can carry out a myriad of tasks. Their primary job description is to furnish support to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice operating successfully. Some Missouri dental assistants elect to specialize and earn certification in a particular area, for example orthodontics. However the majority of assistants perform any job that they are called upon to fulfill, including:

  • Scheduling and confirming appointments
  • Readying patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
  • Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
  • Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
  • Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
  • Readying X-ray machines and handling X-rays
  • Purchasing dental and office supplies

Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so consult with the Missouri dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines more than likely will need 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) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

The Job of a Dental Hygienist

O Fallon dental hygienist treating patient in MissouriWhen contrasting the duties of a O Fallon 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 dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the Missouri practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities 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
  • 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 must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam in addition to passing any state licensing exams. Once they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist and Assistant Education Options

Dental assistant courses are provided at Missouri community colleges along with trade or vocational schools. The most frequent credential earned is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about 1 year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more extensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting 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 require anywhere from two to as long as three years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in almost every state. They are also offered in community colleges and technical schools. Regardless of whether you are pursuing training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical component to the training as well. Many programs also offer internships with O Fallon area dentists or dental practices.

Dental Online Training Programs

attending dental assistant school online in O Fallon homeEnrolling in an online dental assistant or hygienist school can be a good alternative for obtaining your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible via your desktop computer in the comfort of your O Fallon home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to college, online dental programs make education far more accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The clinical training can usually be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to obtain the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of learning, you may find that enrolling in an dental online college is the ideal option for you.

Subjects to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Programs

Questions to ask Missouri dental colleges 63366After you have picked the dental specialization and kind of credential you want to obtain, you can start the procedure of comparing O Fallon area programs and schools. As we covered at the start of this article, a number of prospective students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they search for several online options also. Even though these are important initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the Missouri programs you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, 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 College Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental assistant or hygienist school. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in virtually all states. In order 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 receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. O Fallon area employers frequently prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited schools.

Is The Appropriate Dental Program Available? You can elect to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make sure that the college you select offers 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 O Fallon area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are offered. However, bear in mind that just because a school has a good reputation and accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school 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 Enough Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a necessary part of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. Many O Fallon area dental schools have partnerships with area dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the program you enroll in offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the school you select offers clinical rotation in a regional dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental programs you are exploring sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the best way to get hands-on, clinical experience in a real O Fallon dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Many graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene schools need help landing their first job. Check if the colleges you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.

Are Classes Smaller? Find out from the Missouri schools you are evaluating how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally offer a more personal atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, larger classes often are impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a couple of classes at the college that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the amount of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.

 What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene schools can vary in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other significant 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 schools, remember to add all of the costs associated with your education. Most colleges have financial aid offices, so be sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 63366 area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental college, you need to verify that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while getting your education and need to attend classes near O Fallon in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family responsibilities.

Pick the Best Dental School near O Fallon MO

Enrolling in the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist program is crucial if you intend to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of options offered to receive your training 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 community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs normally earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be practicing in just nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists typically require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When earning either a degree or a certificate you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of education or credential you decide to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.

 

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