How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Belfast 37019
Selecting the right dental hygienist program near Belfast TN is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than picking the college with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other significant factors to consider also, for instance the school’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in receiving training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you have to invest. The most common dental assistant program generally takes about one year to complete for a diploma or certificate. Meanwhile, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to complete. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the colleges you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let’s review the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options provided.
The Duties of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an important component of any Belfast dental office and can perform a multitude of functions. Their fundamental job description is to provide assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice working successfully. A number of Tennessee dental assistants choose to specialize and receive certification in a specific area, such as periodontics. Even so most assistants perform any task that they are called upon to complete, for example:
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Readying patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Ordering office and dental supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so consult with the Tennessee dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants handling X-ray machines more than likely will have to be certified and licensed. Many dental assistants who are either required or opt to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Role of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the duties of a Belfast 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 in support of the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the Tennessee practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients about oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
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 as well as any state licensing examinations. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist & Assistant Training Options
Dental assistant programs are provided at Tennessee junior colleges in addition to technical or vocational schools. The most typical credential earned is the certificate, which generally takes about a year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more expansive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. As a result of the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working 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 finish and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually every state. They are also offered in vocational schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical aspect to the training also. Many programs also offer internships with Belfast area dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Colleges
Selecting an online dental assistant or hygienist college can be a good option for obtaining your education. Just remember that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible via your personal computer in the convenience of your Belfast home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The practical training can typically be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to receive the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you may find that attending an online dental college is the best choice for you.
What to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Programs
After you have picked the dental specialty and kind of credential you would like to obtain, you can begin the procedure of comparing Belfast area programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of students start by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they search for several online alternatives as well. Although these may be relevant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the Tennessee programs 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 ultimate selection of the best dental program for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental assistant or hygienist program. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in almost all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Belfast area employers frequently desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not available for non-accredited schools.
Is The Right Dental Program Offered? You can decide to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make sure that the school you decide on has the program that you want. For the assistant program, the options are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. If you want to work as a hygienist, a large number of Belfast area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are offered. However, keep in mind that even if a college has an exceptional reputation and accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a strong accredited dental assistant program, but may have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are primarily interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the ideal school for you.
Is Plenty of Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an essential component of every dental training program. This holds true for the online college options also. Most Belfast area dental colleges have partnerships with regional dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the school you choose provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental colleges you are evaluating have internship programs. Internships are probably the best means to get hands-on, practical experience in a professional Belfast dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Many students that have graduated from dental hygiene or assistant schools need help obtaining their first job. Ask if the colleges you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental profession in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Small? Ask the Tennessee programs you are looking at how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, bigger classes can be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a couple of classes at the school that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene schools can vary in cost depending on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools 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 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 related to your education. Most colleges have financial aid offices, so be sure to find out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 37019 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental college, you must verify that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while getting your education and need to attend classes near Belfast 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 procedure is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Dental Program near Belfast TNSelecting the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant course is crucial if you want to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of alternatives available to receive your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can acquire your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs normally earn either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be working in just nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require about 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When earning either a certificate or a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever credential or mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the right choice. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.