Top Dental Assistant Colleges | How to Become a Dental Assistant near Bay City MI 48706

How to Pick a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Bay City 48706

dental assistant training in Bay City MIChoosing the right dental hygienist program near Bay City MI is an essential first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than selecting the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your home. There are other important issues to take into account also, for instance the program’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specialties you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may depend on the amount of time and money that you are willing to commit. The most typical dental assistant program generally takes about 12 months to complete for a diploma or certificate. However, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these issues and supplemental questions that you should be asking the schools you are assessing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options provided.

The Job of a Dental Assistant

Bay City dental assistant helping dentist 48706Dental assistants are an important component of any Bay City dental practice and can carry out a multitude of tasks. Their main job description is to furnish support to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice operating efficiently. Some Michigan dental assistants opt to specialize and earn certification in a particular area, such as pediatrics. However the majority of assistants perform any duty that they are asked to fulfill, such as:

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

Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so consult with the Michigan dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants working with X-ray machines most likely will have to be certified and licensed. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or decide to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

The Role of a Dental Hygienist

Bay City dental hygienist treating patient in MichiganWhen comparing the job of a Bay City dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As previously mentioned, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the Michigan practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:

  • Removing stains, tartar and plaque
  • Applying fluoride treatments
  • Applying sealants and polishing teeth
  • Teaching patients about oral care
  • 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 must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam in addition to passing any state licensing exams. After they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Assistant and Hygienist Education Options

Dental assistant programs are available at Michigan community colleges along with technical or vocational schools. The most frequent credential earned is the certificate, which generally takes about one year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more extensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. Because of the additional 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 require 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 vocational schools and community colleges. Whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a clinical component to the training also. Many programs also sponsor internships with Bay City area dentists or dental practices.

Online Dental Schools

attending dental assistant school online in Bay City homeSelecting an online dental hygienist or assistant school can be a viable alternative for receiving your training. Just remember that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible via your personal computer in the convenience of your Bay City home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental classes make education much more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The clinical training can typically be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to obtain the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this method of education, you may find that enrolling in an online dental program is the best choice for you.

Subjects to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Schools

Questions to ask Michigan dental colleges 48706After you have picked the dental specialization and type of credential you would like to obtain, you can start the procedure of comparing Bay City area programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many prospective students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Maybe they look for some online options also. Although these are significant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the Michigan schools you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the best dental program for you.

Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist or assistant school. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the education you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Bay City area employers frequently prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited colleges.

Is The Correct Dental Program Available? You can elect to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make sure that the college you select has the program that you want. 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, most Bay City area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, bear in mind that just because a college has a good reputation as well as accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school 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, obviously it would not be the ideal school for you.

Is Sufficient Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an important part of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. Many Bay City area dental schools have partnerships with local dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the college you select offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a regional dental practice that specializes in dental services for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental colleges you are considering sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal way to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a real Bay City 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 too.

Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Most graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant programs require assistance landing their first job. Ask if the programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental community in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.

Are Classrooms Smaller? Ask the Michigan schools you are looking at how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal setting for training where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, large classes often are impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a few classes at the school that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.

 What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant programs can differ in cost dependent on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, remember to add all of the costs related to your education. The majority of schools have financial aid offices, so make sure to ask what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 48706 area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental school, you must make sure that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while getting your education and need to go to classes near Bay City in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose 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 need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family responsibilities.

Pick the Best Dental School near Bay City MI

Enrolling in the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant program is imperative if you want to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous alternatives offered to acquire your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can receive your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools normally earn either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be working in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require about 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning either a degree or a certificate you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever credential or mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal choice. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.

 

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