How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Soldotna 99669
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist program near Soldotna AK is an important initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than picking the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other significant issues to take into account also, for instance the school’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in obtaining 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 one year to finish for a diploma or certificate. However, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these issues and supplemental questions that you should be asking the schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s look at the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options provided.
The Duties of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an important part of any Soldotna dental office and can carry out a multitude of tasks. Their primary job description is to furnish support 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 earn certification in a specific area, such as orthodontics. Even so the majority of assistants carry out any duty that they are called upon to complete, such as:
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Ordering dental and office supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so consult with the Alaska dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines more than likely will have to be licensed and certified. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or decide to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Duties of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the role of a Soldotna dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the Alaska practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and report their findings to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients about oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- 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 must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination as well as any state licensing examinations. Once they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant and Hygienist Training Options
Dental assistant courses are available at Alaska community colleges in addition to trade or vocational schools. The most common credential attained is the certificate, which generally takes about a year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more comprehensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. As a result of the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental practices are often required to hold 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 nearly 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 clinical component to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with Soldotna area dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Training
Selecting an online dental hygienist or assistant college can be a good alternative for obtaining your education. Just remember that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Soldotna home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Many may even have lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The clinical training can typically be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to obtain the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you might find that attending an online dental school is the ideal option for you.
Issues to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Programs
When you have selected the dental specialization and kind of credential you would like to attain, you can start the process of comparing Soldotna area programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they search for several online options as well. Although these may be important initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the Alaska colleges you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the right dental college for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist or assistant program. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in almost all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the instruction you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Soldotna 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, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited schools.
Is The Correct Dental Program Available? You can elect to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make certain that the college you choose has the program that you want. For the assistant program, the choices are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. In order to earn a living as a hygienist, the majority of Soldotna area dental practices 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 an excellent reputation and 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 could have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are solely interested in a dental hygiene degree, naturally it would not be the best college for you.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an important part of any dental training program. This holds true for the online college options also. A number of Soldotna area dental programs have partnerships with area dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the college you enroll in provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a regional dental office that focuses on dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental colleges you are evaluating sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal means to get hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Soldotna dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Most graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant schools need assistance obtaining their first job. Ask if the schools you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges 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 internships or employment.
Are the Classes Smaller? Check with the Alaska colleges you are reviewing how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate setting for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, large classes can be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the college that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the level of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant colleges can fluctuate in cost based on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant 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 examining the cost of colleges, remember to add all of the expenses associated with your education. Most colleges have financial aid departments, so make sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 99669 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental college, you need to confirm that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and need to go to classes near Soldotna in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Pick the Right Dental Program near Soldotna AKEnrolling in the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist program is important if you wish to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several options offered to receive your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs normally receive either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be working in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require about two years of studies before they enter the work force. When earning either a degree or a certificate you can elect to attend 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 better prepared to make the best selection. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.