How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Dillingham 99576
Choosing the right dental hygienist school near Dillingham AK is an important initial 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 much more to performing your due diligence than selecting the training with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your residence. There are other important issues to take into account also, including the college’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 specialties you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may depend on the amount of time and money that you have to invest. The most common dental assistant program normally takes about 1 year to complete for a certificate or diploma. On the other hand, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these considerations and additional questions that you need to be asking the colleges you are assessing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options available.
The Function of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an essential component of any Dillingham dental office and can perform a myriad of duties. Their primary job description is to provide support to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice running efficiently. Some Alaska dental assistants opt to specialize and acquire certification in a particular area, for instance periodontics. Even so the majority of assistants carry out any duty that they are called upon to fulfill, for example:
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Purchasing office and dental supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so check with the Alaska dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines more than likely will have to be licensed and certified. Many dental assistants who are either required or decide to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Job of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the duties of a Dillingham dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. As earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the Alaska practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s teeth and gums and report their findings to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching 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 Exam as well as any state licensure exams. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist and Assistant Education Options
Dental assistant courses are provided at Alaska community colleges as well as vocational or technical schools. The most typical credential earned is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about 1 year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more expansive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. Because of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices are usually required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require anywhere from two to as long as three years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly every state. They are also offered in community colleges and technical schools. 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. Many programs also sponsor internships with Dillingham area dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Training Programs
Enrolling in an online dental assistant or hygienist school might be a great alternative for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Dillingham home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to school, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Many may even charge lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. And supplementary expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The clinical training can usually 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 proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this method of learning, you may find that attending an dental online school is the best choice for you.
Questions to Cover With Dental Assistant or Hygienist Colleges
Once you have picked the dental specialty and kind of credential you would like to attain, you can begin the procedure of comparing Dillingham area programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, a number of students start by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they look for some online alternatives as well. Even though these may be important initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the Alaska colleges you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the right dental college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist or assistant program. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost 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. Dillingham area employers frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not available for non-accredited programs.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Available? You can opt to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just verify that the college you select offers the program that you want. For the assistant program, the choices are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. In order to have a career as a hygienist, most Dillingham area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, bear in mind that just because a college has a good reputation and accreditation does not mean each one 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 only interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the right college for you.
Is Enough Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a vital component of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. A number of Dillingham area dental schools have relationships with regional dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the school you enroll in offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the program you select offers clinical rotation in a regional dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental schools you are considering have an internship program. Internships are probably the best means to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a real Dillingham 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 look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental hygiene or assistant programs need assistance obtaining their first job. Check if the colleges you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Small? Ask the Alaska colleges you are looking at how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more intimate environment for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, large classes can be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can monitor a couple of classes at the college that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene colleges can vary in cost based on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also come into play. 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 materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of schools, don’t forget to include all of the expenses related to your education. Most schools have financial aid offices, so be sure to ask what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 99576 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental college, you must make sure that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and have to go to classes near Dillingham in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Ideal Dental Program near Dillingham AKEnrolling in the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant program is crucial if you wish to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous alternatives offered to acquire your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools usually earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be working in as little as nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require approximately 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When earning either a degree or a certificate you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of education or credential you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the right selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.