How to Enroll In a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Ketchikan 99901
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist school near Ketchikan AK is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must assess and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than choosing the school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your residence. There are other significant factors to take into account as well, including the school’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the 2 specialties you are most interested in getting training for, which may be contingent on the amount of time and money that you are willing to commit. The most common dental assistant program generally takes about one year to complete for a certificate or diploma. 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 cost. We will discuss all of these factors and supplemental questions that you should be asking the colleges you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let’s look at the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options available.
The Duties of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an integral part of any Ketchikan dental office and can undertake a variety of duties. Their primary job description is to give support to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice running successfully. Some Alaska dental assistants choose to specialize and obtain certification in a particular area, such as orthodontics. Even so the majority of assistants carry out any job that they are asked to fulfill, including:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Purchasing office and dental supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so consult with the Alaska dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants handling X-ray machines more than likely will have to be certified and licensed. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or choose to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Function of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the role of a Ketchikan dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As earlier mentioned, the dental assistant works with and assists the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the Alaska practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and report their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing patients about oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
In order to be licensed in nearly all states, dental hygienists must graduate from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination in addition to passing any state licensure exams. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant and Hygienist Training Options
Dental assistant courses are provided at Alaska junior colleges as well as trade or vocational schools. The most frequent credential attained is the certificate, which usually takes about one year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more comprehensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. Due to the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are often required to have 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 almost every state. They are also offered in vocational schools and community colleges. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a clinical component to the training also. Some programs also sponsor internships with Ketchikan area dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Classes
Choosing an online dental assistant or hygienist program can be a great alternative for receiving your education. Just remember that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Ketchikan home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Some may even offer lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The practical training can often be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to get the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this style of education, you may find that enrolling in an online dental college is the best option for you.
Questions to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Programs
After you have decided on the dental specialization and kind of credential you wish to obtain, you can start the procedure of comparing Ketchikan area programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many students start by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they search for some online options also. Even though these may be relevant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the Alaska programs you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental program for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental assistant or hygienist college. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the instruction you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Ketchikan area employers typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, often they are not provided for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Available? You can elect to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just confirm that the college you decide on has the program that you want. For the assistant program, the choices are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. If you want to work as a hygienist, the majority of Ketchikan area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are offered. However, keep in mind that even if a school has a good reputation as well as accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college may have a strong accredited dental assistant program, but may have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are primarily interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the right school for you.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an essential component of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. A number of Ketchikan area dental schools have partnerships with area dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the school you choose provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the program you select offers clinical rotation in a local dental office that specializes in dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental schools you are looking at sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective method to receive hands-on, practical experience in a professional Ketchikan dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental hygiene or assistant schools need help landing their first job. Check if the programs you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Small? Check with the Alaska programs you are interested in how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more intimate setting for training where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, larger classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a few classes at the college that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant colleges can differ in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the colleges and whether 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 costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of programs, remember to add all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial assistance offices, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 99901 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 Ketchikan in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Find the Best Dental School near Ketchikan AKPicking the right dental assistant or dental hygienist course is important if you intend to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several alternatives available to receive your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can receive your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs generally receive either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be practicing in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists normally require approximately two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When obtaining either a certificate or a degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training or credential you choose to pursue, by asking 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 commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.