Accredited Dental Hygienist Schools | How to Become a Dental Hygienist near East Alton IL 62024

How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near East Alton 62024

dental assistant training in East Alton ILSelecting the ideal dental hygienist school near East Alton IL is an important first step toward starting 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 school with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other crucial issues to consider as well, for instance the college’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specializations 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 usually takes about one year to complete for a diploma or certificate. On the other hand, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to finish. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these concerns and additional questions that you should be asking the schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s explore the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options offered.

The Role of a Dental Assistant

East Alton dental assistant helping dentist 62024Dental assistants are an essential component of any East Alton dental practice and can carry out a myriad of functions. Their fundamental job description is to give support to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice operating efficiently. A number of Illinois dental assistants choose to specialize and earn certification in a specific area, such as periodontics. However most assistants perform any duty that they are asked to complete, for example:

  • Setting and confirming appointments
  • Prepping patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
  • Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
  • Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
  • Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
  • Preparing X-ray machines and processing X-rays
  • Purchasing office and dental supplies

Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so consult with the Illinois dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants working with X-ray machines most likely will have to be certified and licensed. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or choose to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

The Job of a Dental Hygienist

East Alton dental hygienist treating patient in IllinoisWhen comparing the job of a East Alton dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. As earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and in support of the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the Illinois practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s teeth and gums and present their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:

  • Removing stains, tartar and plaque
  • Administering fluoride treatments
  • Applying sealants and polishing teeth
  • Educating patients about oral hygiene
  • Taking X-rays and developing film
  • Applying fillings and removing sutures

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 must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam in addition to passing any state licensure exams. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist and Assistant Training Options

Dental assistant programs are provided at Illinois junior colleges along with technical or vocational schools. The most common credential acquired is the certificate, which generally takes about a year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more expansive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. As a result 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 take 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 trade schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are pursuing training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical component to the training also. A number of programs also offer internships with East Alton area dental practices or dentists.

Dental Online Training Programs

attending dental assistant school online in East Alton homeChoosing an online dental hygienist or assistant college might be a viable option for receiving your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your East Alton home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The clinical training can typically be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to obtain the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you may find that enrolling in an online dental college is the best choice for you.

What to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Schools

Questions to ask Illinois dental colleges 62024After you have decided on the dental specialty and kind of credential you wish to attain, you can begin the procedure of comparing East Alton area programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Possibly they look for some online alternatives as well. Although these may be relevant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the Illinois colleges you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the right dental college for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental assistant or hygienist school. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the education you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. East Alton area employers often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.

Is The Proper Dental Program Available? You can decide to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just verify that the school you choose offers the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. If you want to have a career as a hygienist, many East Alton area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, keep in mind that just because a college has an excellent reputation and 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 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 right school for you.

Is Plenty of Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an essential part of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. A number of East Alton area dental schools have relationships with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the college you enroll in offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a regional dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.

Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental programs you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal method to get hands-on, practical experience in a real East Alton dental practice. They help 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 also.

Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Most students that have graduated from dental assistant or hygiene schools need assistance getting their first job. Check if the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental profession in addition to large networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.

Are the Classrooms Smaller? Check with the Illinois programs you are looking at how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally offer a more personal atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a few classes at the school that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.

 What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant schools can vary in cost depending on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of programs, remember to add all of the costs associated with your education. Most colleges have financial assistance offices, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 62024 area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental school, you must confirm that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while acquiring your education and have to attend classes near East Alton in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family responsibilities.

Pick the Right Dental College near East Alton IL

Selecting the right dental assistant or dental hygienist course is essential if you want to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several options available to receive your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can obtain your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools typically earn either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be practicing in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists typically require approximately 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing either a degree or a certificate you can choose 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 ideal choice. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.

 

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