How to Pick a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Berrien Springs 49103
Choosing the right dental assistant program near Berrien Springs MI is an important initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than picking the school with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your residence. There are other crucial factors to consider also, for instance the college’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial 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 time and money that you are willing to commit. The most common dental assistant program usually takes about one year to finish for a diploma or certificate. Meanwhile, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these factors and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the programs you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let’s explore the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options provided.
The Function of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an important part of any Berrien Springs dental office and can undertake a variety of duties. Their main job description is to give support to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice working efficiently. Many Michigan dental assistants elect to specialize and obtain certification in a specific area, for instance orthodontics. Even so the majority of assistants carry out any job that they are asked to fulfill, for example:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Readying patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Purchasing dental and office supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so check with the Michigan dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants handling X-ray machines most likely will have to be certified and licensed. Many dental assistants who are either required or choose to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Function of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the role of a Berrien Springs dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. As earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the Michigan practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients about oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing in nearly all states, dental hygienists must have graduated 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 regarded as fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant and Hygienist Training Options
Dental assistant programs are offered at Michigan community colleges along with vocational or technical schools. The most typical credential acquired is the certificate, which generally takes about 1 year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more comprehensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. Due to the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are often required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in almost every state. They are also offered in vocational schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with Berrien Springs area dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Training
Enrolling in an online dental assistant or hygienist school may be a great alternative for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Berrien Springs home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Some may even offer lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The clinical training can usually be completed at a community dental office 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 method of education, you might find that attending an online dental program is the right option for you.
Issues to Cover With Dental Assistant or Hygienist Programs
Once you have decided on the dental specialty and kind of credential you wish to attain, you can start the process of comparing Berrien Springs area schools and programs. As we covered at the opening of this article, many prospective students start by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Perhaps they search for some online options as well. Although these are significant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the Michigan schools you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the best dental college for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental assistant or hygienist school. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in virtually 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 establish that the instruction you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Berrien Springs area employers typically desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not available for non-accredited schools.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Available? You can opt to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just verify that the school you choose has the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the options are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. If you want to have a career as a hygienist, the majority of Berrien Springs area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are offered. However, keep in mind that just because a college has an exceptional reputation and accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college may have a solid accredited dental assistant program, but could have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are just interested in a dental hygiene degree, naturally it would not be the right college for you.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a necessary part of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. Many Berrien Springs area dental programs have associations with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the college you enroll in offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the college you select offers clinical rotation in an area dental practice that specializes in dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental colleges you are exploring have internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal method to get hands-on, practical experience in a real Berrien Springs 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 also.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Many graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant colleges 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 higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Smaller? Find out from the Michigan colleges you are evaluating how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate environment for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes tend to be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can attend a couple of classes at the school that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the degree of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant training can fluctuate in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of schools, don’t forget to add all of the costs related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid departments, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 49103 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental school, you need to verify that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and have to go to classes near Berrien Springs in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.
Pick the Ideal Dental School near Berrien Springs MIChoosing the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist course is imperative if you wish to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several options available to acquire your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs generally receive either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be working in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require about 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When obtaining either a certificate or a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever credential or mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.