Top Dental Hygienist Colleges | How to Become a Dental Assistant near Effingham SC 29541

How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Effingham 29541

dental assistant training in Effingham SCChoosing the right dental hygienist training near Effingham SC is an essential initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must assess and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than picking the school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other crucial issues to consider as well, for instance the program’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial 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 generally takes about 1 year to complete for a diploma or certificate. However, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to complete. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these issues and supplemental questions that you should be asking the colleges you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s look at the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options provided.

The Function of a Dental Assistant

Effingham dental assistant helping dentist 29541Dental assistants are an important component of any Effingham dental practice and can carry out a variety of tasks. Their principal job description is to give support to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice operating successfully. A number of South Carolina dental assistants elect to specialize and earn certification in a specific area, such as periodontics. However most assistants perform any duty that they are called upon to complete, for example:

  • Scheduling and verifying appointments
  • Readying patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
  • Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
  • Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
  • Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
  • Readying X-ray machines and handling X-rays
  • Ordering dental and office supplies

Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so check with the South Carolina dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines more than likely will have to be licensed and certified. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or decide to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

The Job of a Dental Hygienist

Effingham dental hygienist treating patient in South CarolinaWhen comparing the duties of a Effingham dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. As earlier mentioned, the dental assistant works with and in support of the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the South Carolina practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s teeth and gums and present their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties may 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
  • Applying fillings and removing sutures

In order to be licensed in nearly all states, dental hygienists must graduate from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam in addition to passing any state licensing exams. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist & Assistant Education Options

Dental assistant programs are provided at South Carolina junior colleges as well as technical or vocational schools. The most typical credential acquired is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about 1 year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more extensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. Due to the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental practices are normally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take anywhere from two to as long as three years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually every state. They are also offered in community colleges and technical schools. Whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical aspect to the training also. Many programs also sponsor internships with Effingham area dentists or dental practices.

Dental Online Training Programs

attending dental assistant school online in Effingham homeEnrolling in an online dental assistant or hygienist college might be a viable alternative for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Effingham home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition rates than their traditional competitors. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The practical training can usually be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to receive the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this style of education, you might find that attending an dental online college is the best option for you.

Questions to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Programs

Questions to ask South Carolina dental colleges 29541Once you have selected the dental specialization and kind of credential you wish to attain, you can begin the process of comparing Effingham area schools and programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they search for some online alternatives as well. Even though these may be significant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the South Carolina colleges you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the right dental program for you.

Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist or assistant program. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in virtually all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Effingham area employers frequently prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not offered for non-accredited programs.

Is The Correct Dental Program Offered? You can elect to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make sure that the school you select offers the program that you want. For the assistant program, the options are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. If you want to earn a living as a hygienist, most Effingham area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are available. However, bear in mind that even if a school has an excellent reputation as well as accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a solid accredited dental assistant program, but could have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are primarily interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the right school for you.

Is Sufficient Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an essential portion of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. Most Effingham area dental schools have relationships with local dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the school you choose offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the school you select offers clinical rotation in an area dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.

Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental schools you are evaluating have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective method to get hands-on, practical experience in a real Effingham 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 look good on resumes too.

Is Job Placement Help Provided? Most graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant colleges require assistance obtaining their first job. Find out if the colleges you are considering 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 in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.

Are the Classrooms Small? Ask the South Carolina colleges you are evaluating how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more personal setting for training where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the school that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.

 What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene colleges can fluctuate in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other significant 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 expenses related to your education. Most schools have financial assistance departments, so be sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 29541 area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental college, you need to confirm that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and must attend classes near Effingham at nights 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.

Enroll in the Best Dental College near Effingham SC

Enrolling in the right dental hygienist or dental assistant course is imperative if you intend to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of alternatives offered to receive your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can obtain your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools usually obtain either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be working in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require approximately two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When pursuing either a certificate or a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever credential or mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.

 

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