How to Find the Right Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Kotzebue 99752
Picking the ideal dental hygienist program near Kotzebue AK is an important initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than selecting the college with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other important issues to take into account also, such as the college’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specialties you are most interested in receiving training for, which may depend on the amount of money and time that you have to invest. The most typical dental assistant program normally takes about 1 year to complete for a certificate or diploma. On the other hand, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these issues and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the programs you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let’s look at the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options provided.
The Duties of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an indispensable part of any Kotzebue dental office and can carry out a wide range of duties. Their primary job description is to give assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice running efficiently. A number of Alaska dental assistants elect to specialize and earn certification in a particular area, for example pediatrics. Even so the majority of assistants carry out any duty that they are called upon to fulfill, such as:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Purchasing dental and office supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so consult with the Alaska dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants handling X-ray machines most likely will have to be licensed and certified. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or decide to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Job of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the role of a Kotzebue dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. As earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and in support of the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the Alaska practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients about oral hygiene
- 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 in addition to passing any state licensure examinations. When they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant and Hygienist Training Options
Dental assistant programs are available at Alaska junior colleges as well as technical or vocational schools. The most common credential attained is the certificate, which generally takes about one year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more extensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. Due to the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental practices are usually required to have 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 almost every state. They are also offered in vocational schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are pursuing training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical component to the training also. Many programs also offer internships with Kotzebue area dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Programs
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist or assistant college might be a great option for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Kotzebue home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental classes make education much more obtainable. Many may even charge lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The practical training can usually be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to obtain the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this style of learning, you may find that enrolling in an online dental college is the right option for you.
Questions to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Schools
When you have selected the dental specialty and type of credential you wish to earn, you can begin the procedure of comparing Kotzebue area schools and programs. As we covered at the opening of this article, many students start by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they search for some online alternatives also. Although these are significant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the Alaska schools you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the ideal dental college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only select an accredited dental assistant or hygienist college. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in virtually all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the instruction you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Kotzebue area employers typically prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not available for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Correct Dental Program Available? You can decide to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make sure that the school you choose has the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the choices are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. If you want to work as a hygienist, most Kotzebue area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are available. However, bear in mind that even if a college has a good reputation as well as accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a strong accredited dental assistant program, but might have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are only interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the best school for you.
Is Adequate Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an important portion of every dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. Most Kotzebue area dental colleges have partnerships with local dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the college you choose provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in an area dental office that focuses on dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental schools you are looking at sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal method to get hands-on, practical experience in a real Kotzebue dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Many graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene colleges need help getting their first job. Ask if the colleges you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental profession in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Smaller? Ask the Alaska schools you are evaluating how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate environment for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, large classes often are impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the school that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the amount of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Overall 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 practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial costs 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 colleges, don’t forget to include all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid departments, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 99752 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental school, you must make sure that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while getting your education and must go to classes near Kotzebue at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Pick the Right Dental School near Kotzebue AKSelecting the right dental hygienist or dental assistant program is essential if you intend to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several options offered to acquire your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can obtain your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools typically receive either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be working in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When obtaining either a certificate or a degree you can choose 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 better prepared to make the best choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.