How to Pick a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Portland 48875
Picking the ideal dental assistant college near Portland MI is an essential first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than choosing the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your residence. There are other crucial factors to take into account as well, such as the college’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in receiving training for, which may depend on the amount of time and money that you are willing to commit. The most typical dental assistant program generally takes about 1 year to complete for a diploma or certificate. Meanwhile, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you should be asking the colleges you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s look at the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options available.
The Function of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an important component of any Portland dental practice and can perform a multitude of tasks. Their main job description is to provide assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice operating successfully. A number of Michigan dental assistants elect to specialize and earn certification in a specific area, such as orthodontics. However the majority of assistants carry out any task that they are asked to fulfill, such as:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Ordering office and dental supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so consult with the Michigan dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines most likely will need to be licensed and certified. Most dental assistants who are either required or opt to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Function of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the role of a Portland dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant 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 supporting the Michigan practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients regarding oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
To qualify for licensing 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 Exam in addition to passing any state licensing examinations. After they have completed these requirements they are considered 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 offered at Michigan community colleges as well as trade or vocational schools. The most typical credential attained is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about one year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more extensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. Due to the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are often required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take 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 vocational schools and community colleges. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical component to the training also. Some programs also sponsor internships with Portland area dental practices or dentists.
Dental Online Colleges
Choosing an online dental assistant or hygienist school may be a viable option for obtaining your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Portland home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to college, online dental classes make education far more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. And supplementary expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The practical training can typically be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to get the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you might find that attending an dental online program is the ideal option for you.
Points to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Programs
After you have selected the dental specialty and type of credential you want to attain, you can begin the process of comparing Portland area programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students start by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they look for several online options also. Although these are significant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the Michigan schools you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the ideal dental program for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist or assistant school. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition 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 ensure that the education you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Portland area employers frequently prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, often they are not provided for non-accredited programs.
Is The Right Dental Program Available? You can elect to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just verify 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. If you want to earn a living as a hygienist, the majority of Portland 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 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 may 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 college for you.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an important part of any dental training program. This holds true for the online college options also. Most Portland area dental programs have associations with area dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the program you choose offers adequate 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, make sure that the program you select offers clinical rotation in a local dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental colleges you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective means to get hands-on, clinical experience in a real Portland dental practice. They help 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 as well.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Most graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene programs need assistance obtaining their first job. Check if the colleges you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental profession as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Ask the Michigan colleges you are reviewing how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can monitor a couple of classes at the college that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene schools can fluctuate in cost based on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other substantial expenses 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, don’t forget to add all of the expenses related to your education. Most schools have financial aid offices, so be sure to ask what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 48875 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental school, you must confirm that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and must attend classes near Portland 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 addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family issues.
Enroll in the Right Dental School near Portland MIEnrolling in the right dental hygienist or dental assistant program is important if you want to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of alternatives offered to receive your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools generally obtain either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be working in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists normally require about 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When earning either a certificate or a degree you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. 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 selection. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.