How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Burlington 98233
Picking the right dental assistant school near Burlington WA is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than selecting the training with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other important factors to consider also, for instance the program’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in receiving training for, which may depend 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 complete for a diploma or certificate. On the other hand, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to complete. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you should be asking the schools you are assessing later in this article. But first, let’s review the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options available.
The Function of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an indispensable component of any Burlington dental office and can perform a multitude of tasks. Their fundamental job description is to provide support to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice operating efficiently. Some Washington dental assistants choose to specialize and receive certification in a specific area, such as pediatrics. Even so the majority of assistants carry out any task that they are asked to complete, including:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Purchasing office and dental supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so check with the Washington dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants working with X-ray machines most likely will need to be licensed and certified. Many dental assistants who are either required or elect to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Job of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the job of a Burlington dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and in support of the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the Washington practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing in almost all states, dental hygienists must graduate 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, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant and Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant courses are offered at Washington community colleges in addition to technical or vocational schools. The most frequent credential earned is the certificate, which usually takes about one year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more expansive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. As a result of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices 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 complete and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly every state. They are also offered in trade schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical aspect to the training as well. Some programs also sponsor internships with Burlington area dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Colleges
Enrolling in an online dental assistant or hygienist college may be a viable option for getting your education. Just remember that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Burlington home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The practical training can typically be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to obtain the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this method of learning, you may find that enrolling in an dental online program is the ideal option for you.
Points to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Programs
When you have picked the dental specialty and kind of credential you want to earn, you can start the procedure of comparing Burlington area schools and programs. As we covered at the start of this article, a number of students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they look for some online options as well. Even though these may be important initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the Washington colleges you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the best dental school for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of 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 nearly all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the instruction you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Burlington area employers often desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not provided for non-accredited programs.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Offered? You can choose to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make certain that the college you decide on has the program that you want. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to earn a living as a hygienist, a large number of Burlington area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are offered. However, bear in mind that just because a college has a good reputation as well as accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college may have a strong accredited dental assistant program, but might have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are only interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the right college for you.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a vital component of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. Many Burlington area dental schools have partnerships with local dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the college you select offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental colleges you are considering have internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal means to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a real Burlington dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Most students that have graduated from dental hygiene or assistant programs need assistance landing their first job. Find out if the schools you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental community as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Small? Check with the Washington schools you are reviewing how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal setting for training where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the school that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant training can differ in cost based on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also have an impact. But besides 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 equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of schools, don’t forget to include all of the costs associated with your education. Most schools have financial aid offices, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 98233 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental college, you must confirm that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while getting your education and have to attend classes near Burlington at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Pick the Best Dental Program near Burlington WAEnrolling in the right dental hygienist or dental assistant program is important if you wish to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several options offered to obtain your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs usually receive either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be working in just nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require approximately two years of studies before they enter the work force. When earning either a certificate or a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training or credential you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.