Top Dental Assistant Schools | How to Become a Dental Assistant near Potsdam NY 13676

How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Potsdam 13676

dental assistant training in Potsdam NYSelecting the ideal dental assistant college near Potsdam NY is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than choosing the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other important factors to take into account also, such as the school’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial 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 have to invest. The most common dental assistant program normally takes about 12 months to finish for a diploma or certificate. On the other hand, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these considerations and additional questions that you need to be asking the schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s review the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options provided.

The Function of a Dental Assistant

Potsdam dental assistant helping dentist 13676Dental assistants are an essential component of any Potsdam dental office and can perform a multitude of duties. Their main job description is to furnish assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice operating successfully. Some New York dental assistants opt to specialize and acquire certification in a particular area, such as periodontics. Even so most assistants carry out any task that they are called upon to fulfill, including:

  • Setting and verifying appointments
  • Readying patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
  • Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
  • Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
  • Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
  • Preparing X-ray machines and handling X-rays
  • Ordering dental and office supplies

Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so check with the New York dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants working with X-ray machines most likely will need to be certified and licensed. Many dental assistants who are either required or opt to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

The Job of Dental Hygienists

Potsdam dental hygienist treating patient in New YorkWhen contrasting the role of a Potsdam dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and in support of the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the New York practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities may include:

  • Removing stains, tartar and plaque
  • Administering fluoride treatments
  • Applying sealants and polishing teeth
  • 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 Examination as well as any state licensure exams. Once they have completed these requirements they are deemed 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 offered at New York junior colleges as well as vocational or technical schools. The most typical credential acquired is the certificate, which usually takes about 1 year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more expansive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. As a result of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental practices are usually 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 nearly every state. They are also offered in vocational schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical aspect to the training also. A number of programs also offer internships with Potsdam area dental practices or dentists.

Dental Online Training Programs

attending dental assistant school online in Potsdam homeEnrolling in an online dental assistant or hygienist school might be a great alternative for receiving your education. Just remember that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Potsdam home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to college, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Many may even have lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The clinical training can often be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to get the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you might find that attending an online dental program is the right choice for you.

Issues to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Programs

Questions to ask New York dental colleges 13676Once you have selected the dental specialization and kind of credential you want to attain, you can start the procedure of comparing Potsdam area schools and programs. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Maybe they search for some online options also. Even though these may be significant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the New York colleges you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the right dental college for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist or assistant college. If you are intending 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 program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the training you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Potsdam area employers typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not obtainable for non-accredited colleges.

Is The Appropriate Dental Program Available? You can decide to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just confirm that the school you select offers the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the options are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. In order to work as a hygienist, many Potsdam area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are offered. However, bear in mind that even if a college has a good reputation as well as accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college may have a solid accredited dental assistant program, but might have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are primarily interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the best college for you.

Is Adequate Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a vital part of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. Most Potsdam area dental schools have relationships with regional dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only important that the program you enroll in offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the program you select offers clinical rotation in an area dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.

Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental colleges you are looking at have an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective method to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a real Potsdam dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Support Offered? Many graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene programs require help getting their first job. Find out if the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.

Are the Classrooms Smaller? Check with the New York schools you are looking at how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more personal environment for training where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, larger classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the school that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.

 What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene programs can differ in cost dependent on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other substantial 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 examining the cost of colleges, remember to include all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial aid departments, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 13676 area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental college, you must verify that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while receiving your education and need to go to classes near Potsdam at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still need 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 illness, work or family emergencies.

Choose the Ideal Dental College near Potsdam NY

Selecting the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant program is crucial if you want to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of alternatives offered to acquire your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can receive your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools normally earn either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be practicing in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require approximately two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When obtaining either a certificate or a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training 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 commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.

 

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