How to Pick a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Oakdale 71463
Choosing the ideal dental assistant school near Oakdale LA is an essential first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than picking the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your home. There are other important issues to consider as well, including the program’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 specialties you are most interested in getting training for, which may be contingent on the amount of time and money that you are willing to commit. The most common dental assistant program generally takes about 1 year to finish for a diploma or certificate. However, dental hygienists generally 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 explore all of these factors and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the programs you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let’s review the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options offered.
The Role of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an integral component of any Oakdale dental practice and can perform a variety of tasks. Their primary job description is to provide assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice operating successfully. Many Louisiana dental assistants elect to specialize and acquire certification in a specific area, such as periodontics. Even so the majority of assistants perform any duty that they are asked to fulfill, for example:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Purchasing office and dental supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so consult with the Louisiana dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines most likely will need to be licensed and certified. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or elect to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Role of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the duties of a Oakdale dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. As earlier mentioned, the dental assistant works with and in support of the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the Louisiana practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients about oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed in almost 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 licensing exams. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant and Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant programs are available at Louisiana community colleges as well as vocational or technical schools. The most typical credential attained is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about one year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more expansive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. Due to the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are normally 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 virtually every state. They are also offered in community colleges and technical schools. Whether you are interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical aspect to the training as well. Many programs also sponsor internships with Oakdale area dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Training Programs
Selecting an online dental assistant or hygienist school may be a good alternative for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Oakdale home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to school, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition costs than their traditional counterparts. And supplementary expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The clinical training can typically be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to get the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of education, you might find that attending an dental online college is the ideal option for you.
Points to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Colleges
Once you have selected the dental specialization and type of credential you would like to attain, you can start the procedure of comparing Oakdale area schools and programs. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of potential students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Possibly they look for some online options as well. Although these are important initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the Louisiana colleges you are reviewing in order to reach 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 program for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist or assistant school. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Oakdale area employers often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not offered for non-accredited programs.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Offered? You can decide to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make sure that the school you select has the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to earn a living as a hygienist, a large number of Oakdale area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are offered. However, keep in mind that just because a college has an excellent reputation and accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college 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, naturally it would not be the ideal school for you.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an essential component of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. A number of Oakdale area dental programs have relationships with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the college you enroll in offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For 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? Verify if the dental colleges you are evaluating have an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective method to get hands-on, practical experience in a professional Oakdale dental practice. They help 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 Help Furnished? Many graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene colleges need assistance getting their first job. Ask if the colleges you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental community as well as large networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Ask the Louisiana programs you are reviewing how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate setting for training where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the college that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant schools can differ in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other significant expenses 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 analyzing the cost of programs, don’t forget to include all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance offices, so make sure to check out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 71463 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental school, you must verify that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while receiving your education and must attend classes near Oakdale in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Ideal Dental College near Oakdale LAPicking the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist program is imperative if you want to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous options offered to acquire your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools normally receive either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be working in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists normally require about two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When pursuing either a degree or a certificate you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever credential or mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the best selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.