How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Bristol 04539
Picking the right dental hygienist college near Bristol ME is an essential first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than choosing the college with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your home. There are other crucial issues to consider 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 getting training for, which may be contingent on the amount of time and money that you have to invest. The most typical dental assistant program normally takes about 12 months to complete for a certificate or diploma. However, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these issues and additional questions that you should be asking the programs you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let’s look at the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options available.
The Job of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an important part of any Bristol dental office and can perform a variety of duties. Their principal job description is to give support to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice working successfully. A number of Maine dental assistants elect to specialize and acquire certification in a particular area, such as pediatrics. Even so the majority of assistants carry out any duty that they are asked to complete, including:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Readying patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Purchasing dental and office supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so check with the Maine dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines more than likely will have to be licensed and certified. Most dental assistants who are either required or choose to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Role of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the role of a Bristol dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. As earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the Maine practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient’s teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients regarding oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- 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 as well as any state licensing exams. Once they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist and Assistant Training Options
Dental assistant courses are offered at Maine community colleges along with technical or vocational schools. The most typical credential acquired is the certificate, which generally takes about 1 year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more expansive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. As a result of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are usually 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 community colleges and technical schools. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical aspect to the training also. Many programs also offer internships with Bristol area dentists or dental practices.
Dental Online Training
Choosing an online dental assistant or hygienist school can be a viable option for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Bristol home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending college, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Many may even charge lower tuition fees than their traditional counterparts. And supplementary expenses such as for 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 get the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you may find that enrolling in an dental online program is the best choice for you.
Topics to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Colleges
After you have picked the dental specialization and kind of credential you wish to earn, you can start the procedure of comparing Bristol area schools and programs. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many students start by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Maybe they look for several online alternatives also. Although these are important initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should address to the Maine programs you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental program for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist or assistant school. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in virtually 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 training you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Bristol area employers typically desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. 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 Offered? You can opt to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just verify that the college you select has the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the choices are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. In order to work as a hygienist, a large number of Bristol area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are available. However, bear in mind that even if a college has an excellent reputation as well as accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college 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, naturally it would not be the ideal school for you.
Is Enough Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an essential part of every dental training program. This is true for the online school options also. Many Bristol area dental programs have associations with regional dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the school you enroll in provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a regional dental practice that specializes in dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental programs you are exploring sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the best method to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a real Bristol dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Most graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene colleges need assistance getting their first job. Check if the programs you are researching 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 place their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Find out from the Maine schools you are interested in how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate environment for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a couple of classes at the college that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene colleges can vary in cost depending on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether 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 costs 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. The majority of colleges have financial aid offices, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 04539 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental school, you must make sure that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while receiving your education and must go to classes near Bristol at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family issues.
Pick the Best Dental Program near Bristol MESelecting the right dental hygienist or dental assistant course is essential if you intend to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of options offered 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, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools generally earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be working in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require about two years of studies before they enter the work force. When obtaining either a degree or a certificate you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training or credential you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the best choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.