How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Pampa 79065
Choosing the right dental hygienist training near Pampa TX is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must assess and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than picking the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other important issues to take into account also, including the school’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specialties you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may be contingent on the amount of time and money that you have to invest. The most common dental assistant program usually takes about one year to finish for a diploma or certificate. On the other hand, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to finish. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these factors and additional questions that you should be asking the schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s review the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options available.
The Job of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an indispensable part of any Pampa dental practice and can perform a myriad of functions. Their main job description is to furnish support to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice operating efficiently. Some Texas dental assistants opt to specialize and earn certification in a specific area, for example orthodontics. Even so most assistants carry out any duty that they are called upon to fulfill, for example:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Purchasing office and dental supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so check with the Texas dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants working 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) examination provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Job of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the duties of a Pampa dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. As previously mentioned, the dental assistant works with and in support of the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the Texas practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients regarding oral care
- 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 Exam in addition to passing any state licensing examinations. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant and Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant programs are available at Texas community colleges as well as technical or vocational schools. The most typical credential earned is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about a year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more comprehensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. Because of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices are usually required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in almost every state. They are also offered in trade schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are pursuing training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical aspect to the training also. Some programs also offer internships with Pampa area dental practices or dentists.
Dental Online Colleges
Selecting an online dental assistant or hygienist school can be a viable alternative for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Pampa home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending college, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition rates than their traditional counterparts. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The clinical training can often be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to get the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this method of education, you might find that attending an online dental program is the ideal choice for you.
Topics to Cover With Dental Assistant or Hygienist Schools
When you have picked the dental specialty and kind of credential you would like to earn, you can begin the procedure of comparing Pampa area schools and programs. As we discussed at the start of this article, a number of potential students start by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they search for some online options also. Even though these may be relevant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the Texas colleges you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the best dental program for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist or assistant college. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in almost all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Pampa area employers frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not available for non-accredited schools.
Is The Correct Dental Program Available? You can elect to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make sure that the school you select offers the program that you want. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. If you want to work as a hygienist, a large number of Pampa area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced 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 each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a solid 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, obviously it would not be the right college for you.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an essential portion of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. A number of Pampa area dental programs have associations with regional dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the college you select offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the college you select offers clinical rotation in a local dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental schools you are exploring have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective means to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Pampa dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Many graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant colleges require help getting their first job. Find out if the schools you are researching have job assistance 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 broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Small? Find out from the Texas colleges you are interested in how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal environment for training where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes often are impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the school that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the level of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant colleges can fluctuate in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also have an impact. 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 equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of schools, remember to include all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance offices, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 79065 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental college, you need to verify that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and must attend classes near Pampa in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, 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 have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Find the Ideal Dental College near Pampa TXPicking the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant course is imperative if you want to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are many alternatives 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 schools generally receive either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be working in as little as nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists normally require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When pursuing either a degree or a certificate you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of education or credential you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the best choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.