Accredited Dental Hygienist Programs | How to Become a Dental Hygienist near Van Buren AR 72956

How to Find the Right Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Van Buren 72956

dental assistant training in Van Buren ARPicking the right dental hygienist college near Van Buren AR is an essential initial step toward beginning 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 doing your due diligence than selecting the school with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other crucial factors to take into account also, including the program’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 specializations you are most interested in getting training for, which may be contingent on the amount of time and money that you are willing to invest. The most common dental assistant program generally takes about 1 year to complete for a diploma or certificate. On the other hand, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these factors and additional questions that you need to be asking the colleges you are assessing later in this article. But first, let’s look at the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options available.

The Duties of a Dental Assistant

Van Buren dental assistant helping dentist 72956Dental assistants are an integral part of any Van Buren dental practice and can undertake a variety of tasks. Their fundamental job description is to give support to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice working successfully. A number of Arkansas dental assistants elect to specialize and obtain certification in a particular area, such as pediatrics. However the majority of assistants carry out any job that they are asked to complete, including:

  • Scheduling and verifying appointments
  • Readying patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
  • Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
  • Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
  • Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
  • Readying X-ray machines and handling X-rays
  • Ordering dental and office supplies

Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so check with the Arkansas dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants handling X-ray machines more than likely will need to be licensed and certified. Many dental assistants who are either required or opt to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

The Role of a Dental Hygienist

Van Buren dental hygienist treating patient in ArkansasWhen comparing the role of a Van Buren dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the Arkansas practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the first person a patient encounters 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. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities may include:

  • Removing plaque, tartar and stains
  • Applying fluoride treatments
  • Polishing teeth and applying sealants
  • Instructing patients about oral hygiene
  • Taking X-rays and developing film
  • Applying fillings and removing sutures

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 as well as any state licensing exams. When they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist & Assistant Education Options

Dental assistant courses are available at Arkansas junior colleges along with trade or vocational schools. The most common credential attained is the certificate, which usually takes about 1 year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more extensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. As a result of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental practices are normally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take 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 community colleges and technical schools. Whether you are interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical component to the training also. Some programs also offer internships with Van Buren area dentists or dental practices.

Dental Online Programs

attending dental assistant school online in Van Buren homeChoosing an online dental hygienist or assistant school can be a viable alternative for receiving your training. Just remember that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Van Buren home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental programs make education far more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition costs than their traditional counterparts. And additional expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The clinical training can typically be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to obtain the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of learning, you might find that enrolling in an online dental program is the best option for you.

Subjects to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Schools

Questions to ask Arkansas dental colleges 72956Once you have decided on the dental specialty and kind of credential you want to attain, you can begin the process of comparing Van Buren area programs and schools. As we covered at the start of this article, a number of potential students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they look for some online options as well. Even though these may be relevant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the Arkansas schools you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental school for you.

Is the Dental College Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only select an accredited dental assistant or hygienist program. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in virtually all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the education you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Van Buren area employers typically prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, frequently 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 confirm that the college you decide on offers the program that’s right for you. 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, most Van Buren area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, bear in mind that just because a school has an exceptional reputation and 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 could have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are solely interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the right college for you.

Is Plenty of Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an essential part of every dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. A number of Van Buren area dental colleges have relationships with area dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only important that the college you choose offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local dental office that specializes in dental services for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental colleges you are looking at have an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal way to get hands-on, practical experience in a professional Van Buren 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 Assistance Offered? Many graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene programs require assistance landing their first job. Find out if the programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental profession as well as broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.

Are the Classrooms Smaller? Find out from the Arkansas programs you are looking at how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more intimate setting for training where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, larger classes often are impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can attend a few classes at the college that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.

 What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant programs can vary in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, for example 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 costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, remember to add all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance departments, so make sure to check out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 72956 area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental college, you need to verify that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while getting your education and have to attend classes near Van Buren at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Choose the Ideal Dental Program near Van Buren AR

Choosing the right dental assistant or dental hygienist course is imperative if you wish to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several options available to obtain your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can obtain 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 practicing in as little as nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists normally require approximately two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When obtaining either a certificate or a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training or credential you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the best choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.

 

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