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Top Dental Hygienist Colleges | How to Become a Dental Assistant near Old Harbor AK 99643

How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Old Harbor 99643

dental assistant training in Old Harbor AKChoosing the ideal dental assistant college near Old Harbor AK is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than selecting the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your home. There are other important issues to consider also, for instance the college’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 specializations you are most interested in receiving training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you have to commit. The most common dental assistant program generally takes about one year to complete for a diploma or certificate. However, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these considerations and additional questions that you need to be asking the schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s explore the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options provided.

The Duties of a Dental Assistant

Old Harbor dental assistant helping dentist 99643Dental assistants are an essential component of any Old Harbor dental office and can undertake a wide range of duties. Their fundamental job description is to furnish support to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice running efficiently. A number of Alaska dental assistants opt to specialize and earn certification in a particular area, for example pediatrics. However the majority of assistants carry out any duty that they are asked to fulfill, including:

  • Setting and verifying appointments
  • Prepping patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
  • Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
  • Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
  • Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
  • Readying X-ray machines and processing X-rays
  • Ordering dental and office supplies

Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so check with the Alaska dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants working with X-ray machines most likely will have to be licensed and certified. Most dental assistants who are either required or decide to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

The Role of Dental Hygienists

Old Harbor dental hygienist treating patient in AlaskaWhen contrasting the job of a Old Harbor dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the Alaska practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient’s teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities may include:

  • Removing stains, tartar and plaque
  • Administering fluoride treatments
  • Applying sealants and polishing teeth
  • Teaching patients regarding oral hygiene
  • Taking X-rays and developing film
  • Applying fillings and removing sutures

To qualify for licensing 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 in addition to passing any state licensing examinations. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist and Assistant Education Options

Dental assistant courses are available at Alaska junior colleges in addition to technical or vocational schools. The most typical credential attained is the certificate, which generally takes about one year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more comprehensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. As a result of the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices are usually required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take 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 community colleges and technical schools. Regardless of whether you are pursuing training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical component to the training also. Some programs also sponsor internships with Old Harbor area dental practices or dentists.

Dental Online Programs

attending dental assistant school online in Old Harbor homeChoosing an online dental assistant or hygienist school might be a viable alternative for receiving your training. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Old Harbor home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition costs than their traditional counterparts. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The clinical training can typically be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to receive the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of learning, you may find that enrolling in an dental online program is the ideal option for you.

Subjects to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Schools

Questions to ask Alaska dental colleges 99643After you have picked the dental specialty and kind of credential you would like to attain, you can start the process of comparing Old Harbor area schools and programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many prospective students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they search for several online options also. Even though these are relevant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the Alaska colleges you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the ideal dental college for you.

Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only select an accredited dental assistant or hygienist program. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in almost all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the training you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Old Harbor area employers often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not offered for non-accredited programs.

Is The Appropriate Dental Program Available? You can elect to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make sure that the school you decide on offers the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the options are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to earn a living as a hygienist, many Old Harbor area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are offered. However, bear in mind that just because a college 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 only interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the best school for you.

Is Enough Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a necessary part of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. A number of Old Harbor area dental programs have associations with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the program you choose provides adequate 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, check that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a regional dental office that specializes in dental treatment for children.

Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental schools you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best way to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Old Harbor dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes too.

Is Job Placement Help Provided? Most graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant programs need help obtaining 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 are likely to have good reputations within the dental community as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.

Are Classrooms Smaller? Ask the Alaska programs you are looking at how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the college that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the amount of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.

 What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant training can vary in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also come into play. But along with 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 equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of schools, don’t forget to include all of the costs related to your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance offices, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 99643 area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental school, you must make sure that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and need to go to classes near Old Harbor in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Select the Ideal Dental School near Old Harbor AK

Picking the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist program is imperative if you wish to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous alternatives available to receive your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs usually receive either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be practicing in just nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists typically require about 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning either a degree or a certificate you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training or credential you elect to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the right selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.

 

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