How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Eagle River 99577
Selecting the ideal dental assistant college near Eagle River AK 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 completing your due diligence than choosing the school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other crucial factors to take into account as well, such as the school’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may be contingent on the amount of time and money that you have to commit. The most typical dental assistant program usually takes about one year to complete for a certificate or diploma. On the other hand, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these concerns and additional questions that you should be asking the programs you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s review the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options offered.
The Function of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an indispensable part of any Eagle River dental practice and can undertake a multitude of functions. Their main job description is to provide support to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice operating successfully. Many Alaska dental assistants elect to specialize and earn certification in a particular area, for instance pediatrics. However the majority of assistants perform any task that they are called upon to complete, including:
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Ordering office and dental supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so consult with the Alaska dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants working with X-ray machines more than likely will have to be certified and licensed. Most dental assistants who are either required or decide to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Duties of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the duties of a Eagle River dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. As previously mentioned, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the Alaska practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients regarding 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 also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination in addition to passing any state licensing examinations. Once they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant & Hygienist Training Options
Dental assistant courses are available at Alaska community colleges as well as trade or vocational schools. The most frequent credential acquired is the certificate, which usually takes about one year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more expansive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. Due to the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are normally required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require anywhere from two to as long as three years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in almost every state. They are also offered in trade schools and community colleges. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical aspect to the training as well. Some programs also offer internships with Eagle River area dentists or dental practices.
Dental Online Programs
Choosing an online dental hygienist or assistant program can be a great option for getting your education. Just remember that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Eagle River home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending college, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The clinical training can typically be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to obtain the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you might find that attending an dental online school is the ideal option for you.
Topics to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Schools
When you have picked the dental specialization and kind of credential you wish to earn, you can begin the procedure of comparing Eagle River area schools and programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many potential students start by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they search for some online alternatives also. Although these may be important initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the Alaska schools you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the best dental program for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental assistant or hygienist college. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in virtually all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the instruction you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Eagle River area employers typically desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, often they are not offered for non-accredited programs.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Offered? You can choose to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just verify that the school you select offers the program that you want. For the assistant program, the options are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. In order to work as a hygienist, the majority of Eagle River area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are offered. However, bear in mind that even if a school has an exceptional reputation as well as 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 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 Sufficient Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an important portion of any dental training program. This holds true for the online college options also. A number of Eagle River area dental programs have relationships with local dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the program you select provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the school you select offers clinical rotation in an area dental office that focuses on dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental schools you are exploring have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal means to receive hands-on, practical experience in a professional Eagle River dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Many graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant schools need help obtaining their first job. Ask if the programs you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges 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 employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Find out from the Alaska programs you are looking at how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more intimate atmosphere for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, bigger classes often are impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can attend a couple of classes at the college that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the degree of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant colleges can fluctuate in cost based on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But besides 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 analyzing the cost of programs, don’t forget to add all of the expenses associated with your education. Most colleges have financial aid offices, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 99577 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental school, you need to make sure that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while receiving your education and need to attend classes near Eagle River at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still need 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 responsibilities.
Choose the Right Dental College near Eagle River AKPicking the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist program is essential if you intend to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many alternatives offered to receive your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs generally earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be working in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists typically require approximately 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When pursuing 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 addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the best choice. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.