How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Training Program near Belchertown 01007
Choosing the right dental assistant college near Belchertown MA is an essential first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than picking the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other crucial factors to take into account as well, such as the program’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the 2 specializations you are most interested in receiving training for, which may depend on the amount of time and money that you are willing to invest. The most common dental assistant program normally takes about one year to finish for a certificate or diploma. However, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you should be asking the programs you are assessing later in this article. But first, let’s look at the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options offered.
The Duties of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an integral part of any Belchertown dental office and can perform a wide range of functions. Their principal job description is to give assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice working successfully. A number of Massachusetts dental assistants elect to specialize and receive certification in a specific area, for example periodontics. Even so most assistants perform any duty that they are asked to complete, for example:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Purchasing 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 dealing with X-ray machines more than likely will have to be licensed and certified. Many dental assistants who are either required or opt 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 role of a Belchertown dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As earlier mentioned, the dental assistant works with and assists the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the Massachusetts practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient’s teeth and gums and present their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients about oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
In order to be licensed in almost 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. Once they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant and Hygienist Training Options
Dental assistant courses are available at Massachusetts junior colleges in addition to trade or vocational schools. The most typical credential earned is the certificate, which generally 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 assistant classes. Due to the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental practices are often required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take anywhere from two to as long as three years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly every state. They are also offered in community colleges and technical schools. Whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical component to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with Belchertown area dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Training Programs
Choosing an online dental hygienist or assistant college might be a viable alternative for obtaining your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Belchertown home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition rates than their traditional 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 practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to obtain the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this style of education, you may find that enrolling in an dental online program is the best option for you.
Questions to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Schools
After you have decided on the dental specialty and kind of credential you would like to earn, you can start the procedure of comparing Belchertown area schools and programs. As we covered at the start of this article, many prospective students start by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they look for some online options as well. Although these are significant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the Massachusetts programs you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate 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 hygienist or assistant school. 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 college 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. Belchertown area employers typically prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited schools.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Offered? You can elect to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make sure that the school you decide on has the program that you want. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. In order to work as a hygienist, the majority of Belchertown area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not prevalent, are offered. However, bear in mind that just because a school 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 just interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the best college for you.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a vital portion of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options also. Most Belchertown area dental programs have partnerships with area dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the school you choose provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a regional dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental colleges you are looking at sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the best way to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a real Belchertown dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Many graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene programs need help getting their first job. Ask if the programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental community as well as large networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Small? Ask the Massachusetts colleges you are interested in how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal setting for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, large classes tend to be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can sit in on a few classes at the college that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant schools can vary in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of colleges, remember to include all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance offices, so be sure to find out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 01007 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental school, you need to verify that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while getting your education and must go to classes near Belchertown in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Pick the Ideal Dental College near Belchertown MAPicking the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant course is crucial if you intend to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of options offered to acquire your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can obtain your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools generally 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 normally require approximately two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When pursuing either a degree or a certificate you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of education or credential you choose to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal choice. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.