How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Weston 02193
Picking the ideal dental assistant college near Weston MA is an important 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 far more to doing your due diligence than selecting the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant issues to consider also, such as the program’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two 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 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 complete. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these issues and supplemental questions that you should be asking the colleges you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let’s review the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options offered.
The Duties of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an integral component of any Weston dental practice and can undertake a myriad of duties. Their principal job description is to provide support to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice operating successfully. Many Massachusetts dental assistants opt to specialize and earn certification in a particular area, for instance pediatrics. Even so most assistants carry out any duty that they are called upon to fulfill, including:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Purchasing dental and office supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so consult with the Massachusetts dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines more than likely will have to be certified and licensed. Most 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 Job of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the job of a Weston dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. As earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the Massachusetts practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients regarding oral hygiene
- 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 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 Training Options
Dental assistant programs are available at Massachusetts junior colleges along with technical or vocational schools. The most typical credential acquired is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about one year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more expansive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. Because of the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are usually 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 vocational schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are pursuing training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a clinical component to the training also. Some programs also offer internships with Weston area dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Colleges
Selecting an online dental hygienist or assistant program may be a viable 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 remainder of your classes will be accessible via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Weston home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The clinical training can typically be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you may find that enrolling in an online dental school is the ideal option for you.
Topics to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Schools
Once you have decided on the dental specialty and kind of credential you wish to earn, you can start the process of comparing Weston area programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they search for some online alternatives as well. Although these may be relevant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the Massachusetts programs you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the ideal dental college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist or assistant program. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in virtually all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the education you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Weston area employers frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not obtainable for non-accredited programs.
Is The Correct Dental Program Offered? You can decide to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make sure that the school you select has the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the choices are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to earn a living as a hygienist, many Weston area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not prevalent, are offered. However, keep in mind that just because a school has a good 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 may 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 best school for you.
Is Plenty of Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an essential component of any dental training program. This holds true for the online college options as well. A number of Weston area dental colleges have relationships with area dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the college you enroll in offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local dental office that specializes in dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental programs you are exploring sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective means to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Weston dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Most students that have graduated from dental hygiene or assistant colleges require assistance landing their first job. Find out if the colleges you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental profession in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Small? Find out from the Massachusetts programs you are looking at how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more intimate environment for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a few classes at the school that you are most interested in 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 hygiene and dental assistant schools can fluctuate in cost based on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also have an impact. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of colleges, don’t forget to add all of the costs associated with 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 02193 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental college, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while getting your education and must attend classes near Weston at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Dental Program near Weston MAPicking the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist course is imperative if you want to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several options available to receive your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can receive your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools 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 roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning either a certificate or a degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training or credential you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the best selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.