Top Dental Assistant Colleges | How to Become a Dental Assistant near Patterson NC 28661

How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Patterson 28661

dental assistant training in Patterson NCSelecting the right dental hygienist program near Patterson NC is an essential initial step toward starting 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 performing your due diligence than selecting the training with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your home. There are other significant issues to consider as well, including the college’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 specialties you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you are willing to commit. The most common dental assistant program normally takes about 12 months to complete for a diploma or certificate. Meanwhile, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these issues and supplemental questions that you should be asking the schools you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options offered.

The Function of a Dental Assistant

Patterson dental assistant helping dentist 28661Dental assistants are an important part of any Patterson dental office and can perform a wide range of duties. Their principal job description is to provide support to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice running successfully. Many North Carolina dental assistants choose to specialize and acquire certification in a particular area, for instance pediatrics. Even so the majority of assistants perform any job that they are asked to fulfill, including:

  • Setting and confirming appointments
  • Prepping patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
  • Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
  • Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
  • Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
  • Prepping X-ray machines and processing X-rays
  • Purchasing dental and office supplies

Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so check with the North Carolina dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants handling X-ray machines most likely will need to be certified and licensed. Many dental assistants who are either required or choose to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

The Job of a Dental Hygienist

Patterson dental hygienist treating patient in North CarolinaWhen contrasting the job of a Patterson dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and in support of the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the North Carolina practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and report their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:

  • Removing tartar, stains and plaque
  • Applying fluoride treatments
  • Polishing teeth and applying sealants
  • Teaching patients regarding oral care
  • 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 also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination in addition to passing any state licensure exams. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist & Assistant Training Options

Dental assistant programs are offered at North Carolina junior colleges in addition to vocational or technical schools. The most frequent credential earned is the certificate, which generally takes about a year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more extensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. Due to the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices are generally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require 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. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical component to the training also. Some programs also offer internships with Patterson area dental practices or dentists.

Dental Online Programs

attending dental assistant school online in Patterson homeChoosing an online dental hygienist or assistant program might be a good alternative for obtaining your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Patterson home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending college, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Many may even charge lower tuition rates than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The practical training can typically be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to obtain the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you might find that enrolling in an dental online college is the best choice for you.

Issues to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Colleges

Questions to ask North Carolina dental colleges 28661When you have decided on the dental specialization and type of credential you wish to obtain, you can start the process of comparing Patterson 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. Possibly they search for some online options also. Even though these may be significant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the North Carolina schools you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the ideal dental school for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental assistant or hygienist college. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the instruction you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Patterson area employers often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, often they are not provided for non-accredited programs.

Is The Right Dental Program Offered? You can decide to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make sure that the school you choose has the program that you want. For the assistant program, the options are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. If you want to have a career as a hygienist, the majority of Patterson area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are available. However, keep in mind that even if a school 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, obviously it would not be the ideal college for you.

Is Plenty of Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a vital portion of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. Many Patterson area dental programs have associations with local dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the school you enroll in offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a regional dental practice that focuses on dental services for children.

Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental schools you are considering have an internship program. Internships are probably the best way to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a real Patterson dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Most graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant schools need assistance obtaining their first job. Find out if the programs you are considering have job placement 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 position their students for internships or employment.

Are the Classes Smaller? Ask the North Carolina schools you are looking at how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal setting for training where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can monitor a couple of classes at the school that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.

 What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene schools can differ in cost based on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of schools, remember to add all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial assistance departments, so make sure to check out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 28661 area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental college, you must verify that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while acquiring your education and need to go to classes near Patterson in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family responsibilities.

Enroll in the Best Dental School near Patterson NC

Enrolling in the right dental assistant or dental hygienist course is crucial if you wish to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of options offered to acquire your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs typically obtain either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be practicing in as little as nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require approximately two years of studies before they enter the work force. When earning either a degree or a certificate you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of education or credential you choose 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 start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.

 

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