How to Enroll In a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Capitol Heights 20731
Selecting the right dental hygienist school near Capitol Heights MD is an important initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than picking the college with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your home. There are other crucial factors to take into account as well, such as the program’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 specialties you are most interested in getting training for, which may depend on the amount of time and money that you are willing to commit. The most common dental assistant program normally takes about 1 year to complete for a certificate or diploma. On the other hand, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these issues and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the colleges you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options available.
The Role of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an important part of any Capitol Heights dental office and can carry out a variety of duties. Their main job description is to provide support to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice working efficiently. A number of Maryland dental assistants choose to specialize and obtain certification in a particular area, for example orthodontics. However the majority of assistants carry out any task that they are called upon to fulfill, such as:
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Ordering office and dental supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so consult with the Maryland dental board for your state’s regulations. 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 Duties of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the role of a Capitol Heights dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is undoubtedly 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 Maryland practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine each 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 duties can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing patients regarding oral hygiene
- 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 Examination in addition to passing any state licensure examinations. After they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant & Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant programs are provided at Maryland junior colleges along with vocational or technical schools. The most frequent credential attained is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about a year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more comprehensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. Because of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are usually required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly every state. They are also offered in vocational schools and community colleges. Whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical aspect to the training also. A number of programs also sponsor internships with Capitol Heights area dentists or dental practices.
Dental Online Schools
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist or assistant program might be a viable alternative for obtaining your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Capitol Heights home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental programs make education much more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And added expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The practical training can typically be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to obtain the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you may find that enrolling in an online dental school is the best choice for you.
Questions to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Programs
Once you have decided on the dental specialization and type of credential you wish to earn, you can start the procedure of comparing Capitol Heights area programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many students start by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they search for some online alternatives as well. Although these may be important initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the Maryland colleges you are comparing in order to make 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 school for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental assistant or hygienist program. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement 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 ensure that the education you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Capitol Heights area employers typically prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, often they are not provided for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Offered? You can choose to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make certain that the college you select offers the program that’s right for you. 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, many Capitol Heights area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are offered. However, bear in mind that just because a college has an excellent reputation as well as 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 solely interested in a dental hygiene degree, naturally it would not be the ideal school for you.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a vital component of every dental training program. This holds true for the online college options as well. Many Capitol Heights area dental colleges have associations with local dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only important that the college you select offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in a regional dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental colleges you are considering sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best way to get hands-on, practical experience in a real Capitol Heights dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental hygiene or assistant colleges require assistance getting their first job. Check if the schools you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental profession as well as broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Small? Find out from the Maryland colleges you are evaluating how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more intimate environment for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a few classes at the college that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene colleges can fluctuate in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of schools, remember to add all of the expenses associated with your education. Most colleges have financial assistance offices, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 20731 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental college, you must make sure that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and need to go to classes near Capitol Heights at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Dental College near Capitol Heights MDChoosing the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist course is important if you intend to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many alternatives offered to receive your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs normally obtain either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be practicing in just nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require about 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When pursuing either a certificate or a degree you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of education or credential you choose to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the right choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.