How to Find the Right Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Aquasco 20608
Selecting the right dental assistant program near Aquasco MD is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than picking the college with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other important factors to take into account as well, such as the program’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may depend on the amount of time and money that you have to commit. The most typical dental assistant program usually takes about 12 months to complete for a diploma or certificate. On the other hand, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to complete. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these issues and additional questions that you should be asking the programs you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let’s explore the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options offered.
The Job of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an indispensable part of any Aquasco dental practice and can perform a multitude of tasks. 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. Many Maryland dental assistants choose to specialize and obtain certification in a specific area, for example orthodontics. Even so most assistants carry out any job that they are called upon to fulfill, such as:
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Purchasing dental and office supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so check with the Maryland dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines most likely will need to be certified and licensed. Many dental assistants who are either required or opt to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Function of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the job of a Aquasco dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest 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 Maryland practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and present their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
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 also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination in addition to passing any state licensing examinations. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist and Assistant Training Options
Dental assistant courses are available at Maryland junior colleges as well as vocational or technical schools. The most frequent credential acquired is the certificate, which usually takes about 1 year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more expansive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. Because of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are generally required to hold 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 virtually every state. They are also offered in community colleges and technical schools. Regardless of whether you are pursuing training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical aspect to the training also. Many programs also offer internships with Aquasco area dental practices or dentists.
Dental Online Programs
Enrolling in an online dental assistant or hygienist program can be a good option for obtaining your training. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the convenience of your Aquasco home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending school, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition costs than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The practical training can usually be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this method of learning, you may find that enrolling in an online dental school is the best choice for you.
Questions to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Programs
Once you have selected the dental specialization and kind of credential you want to obtain, you can begin the process of comparing Aquasco area schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of students start by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they look for some online options as well. Although these may be relevant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the Maryland schools you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the ideal dental school for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental assistant or hygienist program. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement 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 establish that the education you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Aquasco area employers often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not available for non-accredited programs.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Available? You can decide to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make certain that the school you choose offers the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the choices are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. If you want to work as a hygienist, many Aquasco area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, keep in mind that just because a school has an exceptional reputation and 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 may have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are solely interested in a dental hygiene degree, naturally it would not be the best school for you.
Is Enough Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an important part of every dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. Many Aquasco area dental programs have partnerships with regional dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the college you select provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like 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 an area dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental programs you are looking at sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal way to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a real Aquasco 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 Assistance Furnished? Most students that have graduated from dental assistant or hygiene programs need assistance getting their first job. Ask if the programs you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates probably have excellent 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? Check with the Maryland programs you are reviewing how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more intimate environment for training where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a couple of classes at the college that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene colleges can fluctuate in cost depending on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools and whether 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 analyzing the cost of programs, remember to add all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of schools have financial aid offices, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 20608 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental college, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and must attend classes near Aquasco at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Find the Ideal Dental School near Aquasco MDEnrolling in the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant program is important if you wish to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many options available to obtain your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can receive your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs usually earn either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be working in as little as nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require about two years of studies before they enter the job market. When pursuing either a degree or a certificate you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training or credential you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the right choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.