How to Enroll In a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Training Program near Petersburg 37144
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist training near Petersburg TN is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than selecting the school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your home. There are other important issues to consider also, including the program’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you have to commit. The most typical dental assistant program generally takes about 1 year to finish for a certificate or diploma. On the other hand, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to complete. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these concerns and additional questions that you should be asking the programs you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s review the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options offered.
The Job of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an important component of any Petersburg dental office and can perform a multitude of functions. Their principal job description is to furnish assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice working efficiently. Some Tennessee dental assistants opt to specialize and receive certification in a specific area, such as periodontics. However the majority of assistants carry out any job that they are called upon to complete, for example:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Readying patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Ordering office and dental supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so check with the Tennessee dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants handling X-ray machines most likely will have to be licensed and certified. Most 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 Job of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the duties of a Petersburg dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. As earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the Tennessee practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients regarding oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- 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 as well as any state licensure exams. After they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant & Hygienist Training Options
Dental assistant courses are provided at Tennessee junior colleges as well as trade or vocational schools. The most common credential earned is the certificate, which usually takes about a year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more comprehensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. Because of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental practices are normally 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 virtually every state. They are also offered in vocational schools and community colleges. Whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical aspect to the training as well. Some programs also sponsor internships with Petersburg area dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Programs
Enrolling in an online dental assistant or hygienist school may be a viable option for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the convenience of your Petersburg home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to college, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Some may even have lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The clinical training can often be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to receive the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you might find that enrolling in an online dental college is the right choice for you.
Issues to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Schools
After you have selected the dental specialty and kind of credential you would like to attain, you can start the procedure of comparing Petersburg area schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they search for several online alternatives as well. Although these may be significant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the Tennessee programs you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, 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 School Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental assistant or hygienist program. If you are going to become licensed or certified, 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 establish that the education you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Petersburg area employers frequently prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited programs.
Is The Right Dental Program Offered? You can opt to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make certain that the college you select has the program that’s right for you. 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, most Petersburg area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, keep in mind that just because a college has an excellent 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 could have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are primarily interested in a dental hygiene degree, naturally it would not be the best college for you.
Is Enough Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an important part of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. Many Petersburg area dental programs have partnerships with regional dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only important that the school you choose offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local dental office that specializes in dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental programs you are considering have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective means to get hands-on, clinical experience in a real Petersburg dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Most students that have graduated from dental assistant or hygiene colleges need help landing their first job. Find out if the programs you are reviewing 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 in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Small? Find out from the Tennessee schools you are reviewing how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more intimate setting for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, large classes often are impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can attend a couple of classes at the college that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the amount of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene colleges can fluctuate in cost based on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other significant 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 examining the cost of schools, remember to include all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid offices, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 37144 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental college, you need to make sure that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while acquiring your education and must go to classes near Petersburg in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose 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 due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Find the Right Dental Program near Petersburg TNEnrolling in the right dental assistant or dental hygienist course is important if you wish to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous alternatives available to acquire your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. 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 typically require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When earning either a certificate or a degree you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever credential or mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing 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 begin your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.