How to Pick a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Atoka 38004
Picking the ideal dental assistant college near Atoka TN is an important initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than picking the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your residence. There are other important issues to take into account as well, including the college’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the 2 specializations you are most interested in getting training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you are willing to invest. The most typical dental assistant program normally takes about 1 year to complete for a diploma or certificate. On the other hand, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these concerns and additional questions that you need to be asking the schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s review the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options offered.
The Role of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an important component of any Atoka dental practice and can undertake a multitude of tasks. Their main job description is to provide support to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice running efficiently. Many Tennessee dental assistants opt to specialize and obtain certification in a specific area, for example pediatrics. However most assistants perform any task that they are asked to complete, including:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Purchasing dental and office supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so check with the Tennessee dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines most likely will have to be licensed and certified. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or elect to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Function of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the duties of a Atoka dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As earlier mentioned, the dental assistant works with and in support of the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the Tennessee practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients about oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing 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 Exam in addition to passing any state licensing examinations. 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 Training Options
Dental assistant courses are provided at Tennessee junior colleges along with vocational or technical schools. The most typical credential earned is the certificate, which usually takes about a year to complete. There are less 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 working in dental practices are normally 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. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical aspect to the training also. A number of programs also sponsor internships with Atoka area dentists or dental practices.
Dental Online Training Programs
Selecting an online dental hygienist or assistant program can be a great option for obtaining your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Atoka home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental classes make education far more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition costs than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The practical training can typically be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to receive the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you may find that enrolling in an dental online school is the ideal option for you.
Topics to Cover With Dental Assistant or Hygienist Schools
After you have selected the dental specialty and type of credential you want to attain, you can begin the process of comparing Atoka area programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, a number of students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Maybe they look for some online options as well. Although these are important initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the Tennessee schools you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the right dental school for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only select an accredited dental assistant or hygienist program. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly all states. In order 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. Atoka area employers typically prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not available for non-accredited programs.
Is The Correct Dental Program Offered? You can choose to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make certain that the college you choose offers the program that you want. For the assistant program, the choices are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to work as a hygienist, many Atoka area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are available. However, keep in mind that even if a school has a good reputation and accreditation does not mean each one 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 solely interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the right school for you.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an essential component of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. Most Atoka area dental programs have partnerships with area dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the school you select provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a regional dental practice 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 means to get hands-on, practical experience in a real Atoka dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Many graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene colleges require help getting their first job. Find out if the colleges you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental profession as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Ask the Tennessee schools you are evaluating how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes generally offer a more personal setting for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can attend a few classes at the school that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant colleges can vary in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other substantial 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 analyzing the cost of colleges, don’t forget to include all of the costs associated with your education. Most colleges have financial aid offices, so be sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 38004 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental school, you need to verify that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while acquiring your education and have to go to classes near Atoka in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family issues.
Select the Best Dental School near Atoka TNEnrolling in the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist program is crucial if you intend to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous alternatives available to receive your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs normally earn either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be working in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists normally require about two years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing either a certificate or a degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever credential or mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the best selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.