How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Training Program near Saint Marys 99658
Choosing the right dental assistant college near Saint Marys AK is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than selecting the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your residence. There are other crucial factors to consider as well, 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 money and time that you have to commit. The most common dental assistant program normally takes about 12 months to complete for a certificate or diploma. Meanwhile, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to finish. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these issues and additional questions that you need to be asking the programs you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options provided.
The Job of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an integral part of any Saint Marys dental practice and can undertake a multitude of duties. Their fundamental job description is to provide assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice running successfully. A number of Alaska dental assistants opt to specialize and acquire certification in a specific area, for instance pediatrics. However the majority of assistants perform any task that they are asked to fulfill, for example:
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Readying patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Purchasing office and dental supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so check with the Alaska dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants handling X-ray machines more than likely will have 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 Function of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the job of a Saint Marys dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the Alaska practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:
- Removing stains, tartar 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
To qualify for licensing 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 examinations. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist and Assistant Education Options
Dental assistant courses are offered at Alaska junior colleges in addition to vocational or technical schools. The most frequent credential earned is the certificate, which usually takes about 1 year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more comprehensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. Because of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental practices are often 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 virtually every state. They are also offered in trade schools and community colleges. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical aspect to the training also. A number of programs also sponsor internships with Saint Marys area dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Training Programs
Selecting an online dental assistant or hygienist program may be a good alternative for obtaining your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Saint Marys home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending college, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies 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 needed to get the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this style of learning, you may find that enrolling in an dental online school is the best option for you.
Topics to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Schools
After you have decided on the dental specialization and type of credential you want to earn, you can start the procedure of comparing Saint Marys area programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many students start by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they search for some online options as well. Even though these may be relevant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you should address to the Alaska colleges you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental program for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist or assistant school. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement 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 establish that the training you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Saint Marys area employers frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited schools.
Is The Proper 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 offers the program that you want. For the assistant program, the options are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. In order to have a career as a hygienist, most Saint Marys area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are available. However, bear in mind that just because a college has a good 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 could have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are just interested in a dental hygiene degree, naturally it would not be the best school for you.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a vital portion of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. A number of Saint Marys area dental schools have partnerships with area dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the school you select provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local dental office that specializes in dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental programs you are looking at have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best means to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a real Saint Marys 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 as well.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental assistant or hygiene colleges require assistance obtaining their first job. Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent 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 Smaller? Find out from the Alaska schools you are reviewing how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate environment for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, bigger classes often are impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the school that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene colleges can differ in cost based on the length of the program and the amount 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 substantial expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of colleges, remember to add all of the costs associated with your education. Most schools have financial assistance offices, so make sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 99658 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental college, you must make sure that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while getting your education and have to go to classes near Saint Marys 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 addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Ideal Dental Program near Saint Marys AKSelecting the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant course is important if you intend to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous options available to acquire your education and it takes a relatively short period 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 an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be practicing in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require approximately two years of studies before they enter the work force. When obtaining either a degree or a certificate you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. 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 appropriate choice. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.