How to Pick a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Swansea 29160
Selecting the right dental assistant school near Swansea SC is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than choosing the school with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your residence. There are other important issues to take into account as well, including the program’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specialties you are most interested in getting training for, which may depend on the amount of time and money that you are willing to commit. The most typical dental assistant program usually takes about 1 year to complete for a diploma or certificate. Meanwhile, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about 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 explore the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options provided.
The Role of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an essential component of any Swansea dental office and can perform a multitude of functions. Their primary job description is to give assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice running successfully. A number of South Carolina dental assistants opt to specialize and obtain certification in a particular area, for example pediatrics. Even so the majority of assistants perform any job that they are asked to complete, for example:
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping 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 South Carolina dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines most likely will need to be certified and licensed. Many 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 a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the job of a Swansea dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. As earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and in support of the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the South Carolina practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient’s gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients regarding oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- 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 Examination in addition to passing any state licensure examinations. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist and Assistant Education Options
Dental assistant courses are available at South Carolina junior colleges as well as trade or vocational schools. The most typical credential earned is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about 1 year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more comprehensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. Because of the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are often required to have 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 almost every state. They are also offered in community colleges and technical schools. Regardless of 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 Swansea area dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Programs
Choosing an online dental assistant or hygienist college may be a great option for obtaining your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Swansea home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental classes make education far more accessible. Many may even have lower tuition rates than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The practical training can often be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to obtain the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of education, you might find that attending an online dental program is the ideal option for you.
What to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Programs
When you have picked the dental specialty and kind of credential you would like to obtain, you can begin the process of comparing Swansea area schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they search for several online options also. Although these are relevant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the South Carolina programs you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the right dental school for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental assistant or hygienist college. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in almost all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Swansea area employers often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not provided for non-accredited programs.
Is The Proper Dental Program Available? You can opt to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just verify that the school you select offers 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 Swansea area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are offered. However, bear in mind that just because a school has an exceptional reputation as well as accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a strong 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, obviously it would not be the right school for you.
Is Adequate Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a necessary component of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options also. Most Swansea area dental colleges have partnerships with regional dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the college you choose provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in an area dental office that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental colleges you are considering have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective way to get hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Swansea dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Most graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene colleges require help getting their first job. Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental profession in addition to large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Smaller? Find out from the South Carolina colleges you are evaluating how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate setting for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a couple of classes at the school that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene training can differ in cost depending on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also come into play. But besides 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 comparing the cost of colleges, don’t forget to add all of the costs associated with your education. Most colleges have financial assistance offices, so be sure to check out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 29160 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental school, you need to verify that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while receiving your education and must go to classes near Swansea at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family issues.
Pick the Ideal Dental School near Swansea SCChoosing the right dental assistant or dental hygienist program is crucial if you wish to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous options available to obtain your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools normally receive either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be working in just nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When obtaining either a certificate or a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever credential or mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the right selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.