Accredited Dental Assistant Schools | How to Become a Dental Assistant near Barnstable MA 02630

How to Find the Right Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Barnstable 02630

dental assistant training in Barnstable MAPicking the ideal dental hygienist training near Barnstable MA is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than selecting the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your residence. There are other significant factors to consider as well, including the college’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the 2 specialties you are most interested in obtaining 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 1 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. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these factors and supplemental questions that you should be asking the colleges you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s look at the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options available.

The Job of Dental Assistants

Barnstable dental assistant helping dentist 02630Dental assistants are an integral component of any Barnstable dental office and can undertake a myriad of functions. Their primary job description is to provide support to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice working efficiently. Some Massachusetts dental assistants choose to specialize and acquire certification in a specific area, for instance periodontics. However the majority of assistants carry out any job that they are asked to complete, for example:

  • Setting and confirming appointments
  • Prepping patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
  • Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
  • Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
  • Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
  • Prepping X-ray machines and processing X-rays
  • Ordering dental and office supplies

Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so consult with the Massachusetts dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants handling X-ray machines most likely will need 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) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

The Function of a Dental Hygienist

Barnstable dental hygienist treating patient in MassachusettsWhen comparing the role of a Barnstable dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. As previously mentioned, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the Massachusetts practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:

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

In order to be licensed in almost 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 as well as any state licensure exams. After 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 & Hygienist Training Options

Dental assistant courses are offered at Massachusetts community colleges along with trade or vocational schools. The most typical credential acquired is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about one year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more extensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. Because of the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices are often 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 trade schools and community colleges. Whether you are interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical aspect to the training also. Many programs also sponsor internships with Barnstable area dental practices or dentists.

Dental Online Colleges

attending dental assistant school online in Barnstable homeChoosing an online dental hygienist or assistant program might be a good option for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Barnstable 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. Many may even have lower tuition costs than their traditional counterparts. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The practical training can often be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you might find that enrolling in an dental online program is the ideal option for you.

What to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Programs

Questions to ask Massachusetts dental colleges 02630Once you have decided on the dental specialty and type of credential you would like to attain, you can start the process of comparing Barnstable area programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, a number of potential students start by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they search for several online options as well. Even though these are relevant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the Massachusetts schools you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental program for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental assistant or hygienist program. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly 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 receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Barnstable area employers typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not provided for non-accredited schools.

Is The Appropriate Dental Program Offered? You can choose 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 alternatives are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. In order to have a career as a hygienist, a large number of Barnstable area dental offices 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 a good reputation and accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a solid accredited dental assistant program, but could have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are only interested in a dental hygiene degree, naturally it would not be the right college for you.

Is Plenty of Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a vital portion of every dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. Many Barnstable area dental schools have partnerships with local dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the program you enroll in provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type 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 college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in an area dental office that focuses on dental care for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental colleges you are evaluating have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal method to get hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Barnstable dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes too.

Is Job Placement Help Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental hygiene or assistant colleges need assistance getting their first job. Check if the colleges you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental profession in addition to large networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.

Are the Classes Smaller? Ask the Massachusetts colleges you are interested in how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal environment for training where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, larger classes often are impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can attend a few classes at the college that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.

 What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene training can vary in cost based on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the colleges and if 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 costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of programs, don’t forget to add all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance departments, so be sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 02630 area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental college, you need to confirm that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while getting your education and need to go to classes near Barnstable at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still have to schedule your clinical 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 issues.

Pick the Ideal Dental School near Barnstable MA

Enrolling in the right dental assistant or dental hygienist program is essential if you want to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are many options available to acquire your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs normally obtain either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be practicing in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require about 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When earning either a certificate or a degree you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever credential or mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.

 

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