How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Prudhoe Bay 99734
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist program near Prudhoe Bay AK is an essential first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must examine 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 college that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant factors to consider also, including the school’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specialties you are most interested in getting training for, which may be contingent on the amount of time and money that you have to commit. The most common dental assistant program normally takes about 1 year to finish for a diploma or certificate. Meanwhile, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these issues and additional questions that you should be asking the colleges you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let’s look at the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options available.
The Duties of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an essential component of any Prudhoe Bay dental office and can carry out a multitude of tasks. Their principal job description is to give assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice working successfully. Many Alaska dental assistants elect to specialize and earn certification in a specific area, such as periodontics. However most assistants perform any duty that they are called upon to fulfill, for example:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Readying patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Purchasing dental and office supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so consult with the Alaska dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines most likely will need to be licensed and certified. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or choose to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Function of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the role of a Prudhoe Bay dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is probably 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 Alaska practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient’s gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing patients about oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
In order to be licensed 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 exams. Once they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist and Assistant Training Options
Dental assistant courses are offered at Alaska community colleges in addition to vocational or technical schools. The most common credential acquired is the certificate, which usually takes about a year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more expansive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. Due to the additional 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 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 community colleges and technical schools. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a clinical component to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with Prudhoe Bay area dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Schools
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist or assistant school may be a great alternative for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Prudhoe Bay home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to college, online dental classes make education far more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. 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 required to receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this style of education, you might find that attending an online dental program is the right choice for you.
Questions to Cover With Dental Assistant or Hygienist Schools
Once you have picked the dental specialty and type of credential you would like to obtain, you can begin the procedure of comparing Prudhoe Bay area schools and programs. As we covered at the start of this article, a number of potential students start by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they search for several online alternatives also. Although these may be important initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the Alaska colleges you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate 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 assistant or hygienist college. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost 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 education you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Prudhoe Bay area employers often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not available for non-accredited schools.
Is The Right Dental Program Offered? You can elect to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just confirm that the college you decide on has the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the choices are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. If you want to work as a hygienist, most Prudhoe Bay area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are available. However, keep in mind that even if a college has an excellent reputation as well as accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college may have a solid accredited dental assistant program, but may have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are just interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the best school for you.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a necessary part of every dental training program. This holds true for the online college options also. Many Prudhoe Bay area dental colleges have relationships with local dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the college you enroll in provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a regional dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental programs you are exploring sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal means to get hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Prudhoe Bay 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 too.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Most graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene programs need assistance landing their first job. Ask if the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental profession in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Small? Ask the Alaska colleges you are interested in how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate setting for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes often are impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a few classes at the college that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Overall Expense 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, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of colleges, don’t forget to include all of the expenses associated with your education. Most schools have financial assistance departments, so be sure to check out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 99734 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental college, you must confirm that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while getting your education and have to go to classes near Prudhoe Bay at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family issues.
Find the Best Dental School near Prudhoe Bay AKPicking the right dental assistant or dental hygienist course is important if you want to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several alternatives available to obtain your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can acquire your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs typically earn either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be working in just 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 certificate or a degree you can elect 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 in a better position to make the ideal choice. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.