How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Fort Wainwright 99703
Choosing the right dental assistant program near Fort Wainwright AK is an essential first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than picking the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your residence. There are other significant issues to take into account also, such as the program’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 specializations you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may depend on the amount of money and time that you are willing to invest. The most typical dental assistant program normally takes about 1 year to finish for a diploma or certificate. Meanwhile, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you should be asking the programs you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s review the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options available.
The Duties of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an indispensable component of any Fort Wainwright dental office and can undertake a wide range of functions. Their main job description is to give support to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice running efficiently. A number of Alaska dental assistants elect to specialize and earn certification in a specific area, such as orthodontics. Even so most assistants carry out any job that they are called upon to fulfill, including:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Ordering dental and office supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so consult with the Alaska dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants handling X-ray machines most likely will need to be licensed and certified. Most dental assistants who are either required or elect to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Job of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the job of a Fort Wainwright dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. As earlier mentioned, the dental assistant works with and in support of the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the Alaska practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients about oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing in nearly 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 Exam as well as any state licensing examinations. After 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 provided at Alaska community colleges along with trade or vocational schools. The most common credential attained is the certificate, which generally takes about one year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more extensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. As a result of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental practices are generally required to hold 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 nearly every state. They are also offered in vocational schools and community colleges. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical aspect to the training as well. Many programs also sponsor internships with Fort Wainwright area dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Schools
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist or assistant school might be a great alternative for receiving your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Fort Wainwright home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to college, online dental classes make education far more accessible. Some may even offer lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The practical training can often be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to get the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you might find that enrolling in an online dental program is the best option for you.
Issues to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Colleges
When you have picked the dental specialization and type of credential you wish to attain, you can start the process of comparing Fort Wainwright area programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students start by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they search for some online alternatives also. Even though these are significant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you should address to the Alaska colleges you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the right dental college for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many good 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 condition in virtually all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental school 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. Fort Wainwright area employers often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited programs.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Available? You can choose to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make certain that the college you decide on has the program that you want. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. In order to earn a living as a hygienist, a large number of Fort Wainwright 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 college has a good reputation as well as accreditation does not mean each one 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 primarily interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the ideal college for you.
Is Enough Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a necessary portion of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. Most Fort Wainwright area dental programs have partnerships with regional dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the college 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 have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a regional dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental schools you are looking at have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal means to get hands-on, clinical experience in a real Fort Wainwright dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Most graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene schools need help getting their first job. Ask if the programs you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental profession as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Smaller? Ask the Alaska schools you are evaluating how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate atmosphere for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, large classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can monitor a couple of classes at the college that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene training can vary in cost based on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of schools, don’t forget to include all of the costs associated with your education. Most schools have financial aid departments, so make sure to check out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 99703 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental school, you need to verify that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while acquiring your education and must go to classes near Fort Wainwright in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family issues.
Pick the Best Dental Program near Fort Wainwright AKChoosing the right 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 a number of alternatives offered to obtain your training 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 programs typically receive either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be working in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists typically require approximately 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When pursuing either a degree or a certificate you can elect 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 ideal selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.