How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Saint Paul 72760
Choosing the ideal dental assistant school near Saint Paul AR is an essential initial step toward launching 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 selecting the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your residence. There are other significant factors to consider also, for instance the college’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 specialties you are most interested in getting training for, which may depend on the amount of time and money that you are willing to invest. The most typical dental assistant program normally takes about 1 year to complete for a certificate or diploma. Meanwhile, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these factors and additional questions that you should be asking the programs you are assessing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options provided.
The Duties of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an important component of any Saint Paul dental office and can perform a wide range of functions. Their main job description is to furnish support to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice operating successfully. A number of Arkansas dental assistants elect to specialize and earn certification in a particular area, for instance periodontics. Even so most assistants carry out any duty that they are asked to fulfill, for example:
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Ordering dental and office supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so check with the Arkansas dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants working with X-ray machines most likely will have to be certified and licensed. 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 Duties of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the duties of a Saint Paul dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. As previously mentioned, the dental assistant works with and in support of the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the Arkansas practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are frequently the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
In order to be licensed in nearly 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 in addition to passing any state licensing exams. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist & Assistant Education Options
Dental assistant programs are offered at Arkansas community colleges as well as trade or vocational schools. The most frequent credential attained is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about one year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more comprehensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. Due to the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices are generally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in almost every state. They are also offered in vocational schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are pursuing training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a clinical aspect to the training also. Some programs also offer internships with Saint Paul area dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Training
Choosing an online dental assistant or hygienist school may be a viable option for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the convenience of your Saint Paul home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending college, online dental classes make education far more accessible. Some may even offer lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The clinical training can usually be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to obtain the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of education, you may find that attending an online dental college is the right option for you.
Topics to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Schools
When you have picked the dental specialty and type of credential you want to obtain, you can begin the process of comparing Saint Paul area schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many potential students start by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they search for several online alternatives also. Although these may be important initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the Arkansas programs you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental program for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist or assistant school. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in virtually all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the instruction you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Saint Paul area employers often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, often they are not offered for non-accredited schools.
Is The Correct Dental Program Offered? You can elect to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just verify that the school you decide on offers the program that you want. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to have a career as a hygienist, many Saint Paul area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher 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 each one 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 just interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the right college for you.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a necessary portion of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. Many Saint Paul area dental colleges have relationships with local dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the college you enroll in provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in a local dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental programs you are looking at have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal way to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Saint Paul dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Many graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene colleges need assistance getting their first job. Check if the programs you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental profession as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Small? Ask the Arkansas colleges you are interested in how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more personal environment for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, larger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, 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 level of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene programs can vary in cost depending on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other substantial 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 comparing the cost of colleges, don’t forget to add all of the costs related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid departments, so make sure to check out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 72760 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental college, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and need to attend classes near Saint Paul at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family issues.
Select the Best Dental College near Saint Paul AREnrolling in the right dental hygienist or dental assistant program is imperative if you want to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several options available to obtain your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools typically obtain either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be working in just nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require approximately two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When earning either a degree or a certificate you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of education or credential you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.