How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Afton 37616
Selecting the ideal dental assistant program near Afton TN is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must examine and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than choosing the training with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant factors to consider as well, such as the program’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specialties you are most interested in getting training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you have to commit. The most typical dental assistant program generally takes about one year to finish for a diploma or certificate. Meanwhile, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to complete. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these factors and additional questions that you need to be asking the programs you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let’s look at the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options available.
The Role of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an indispensable component of any Afton dental office and can perform a multitude of duties. Their primary job description is to furnish support to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice running efficiently. Many Tennessee dental assistants choose to specialize and receive certification in a particular area, for example periodontics. Even so the majority of assistants perform any task that they are asked to fulfill, including:
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Readying patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Purchasing office and dental supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so check with the Tennessee dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants handling X-ray machines most likely will need to be certified and licensed. Many 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 a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the role of a Afton dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. As earlier mentioned, the dental assistant works with and assists the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the Tennessee practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine each 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
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients about oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed in nearly 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 Exam as well as any state licensure exams. After 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 Hygienist & Assistant Education Options
Dental assistant programs are available at Tennessee junior colleges along with vocational or technical schools. The most common credential attained is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about one year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more extensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. As a result of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are generally required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to complete 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 assistant or hygienist, there will be a clinical component to the training also. A number of programs also offer internships with Afton area dentists or dental practices.
Dental Online Classes
Enrolling in an online dental assistant or hygienist college can be a great alternative for obtaining 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 accessible via your personal computer in the comfort of your Afton home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to school, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Many may even charge lower tuition costs than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The practical training can typically be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to receive the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you might find that enrolling in an dental online school is the ideal choice for you.
Questions to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Programs
When you have selected the dental specialization and type of credential you want to obtain, you can begin the process of comparing Afton area programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many students start by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they look for several online options also. Even though these are important initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the Tennessee colleges you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the right dental college for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist or assistant school. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost 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 ensure that the education you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Afton area employers frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited schools.
Is The Proper Dental Program Offered? You can elect to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make sure that the college you select offers the program that’s right for you. 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, a large number of Afton area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not prevalent, are offered. However, keep in mind that even if a school has an excellent reputation and accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a strong 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 best school for you.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a necessary portion of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. A number of Afton area dental schools have associations with regional dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the college you enroll in offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the school you select offers clinical rotation in a regional dental office that specializes in dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental programs you are considering sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the best way to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a real Afton 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 look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Most graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant schools need help obtaining their first job. Ask if the colleges you are looking at 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 large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Check with the Tennessee programs you are evaluating how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal setting for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, bigger classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can attend a few classes at the college that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the level of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene programs can fluctuate in cost based on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other substantial 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 schools, remember to add all of the costs related to your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance offices, so be sure to ask what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 37616 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental school, you must make sure that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and have to attend classes near Afton in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Ideal Dental Program near Afton TNSelecting the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist course is imperative if you wish to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous options offered to obtain your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools normally earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be practicing in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require roughly two years of studies before they enter the job market. When earning either a degree or a certificate you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever credential or mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate selection. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.