How to Find the Right Dental Assistant or Hygienist Training Program near Fairbanks 99701
Picking the ideal dental assistant school near Fairbanks AK is an essential initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than picking the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other important factors to take into account also, for instance the college’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 specialties you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may be contingent on the amount of time and money that you are willing to commit. The most typical dental assistant program normally takes about 12 months to finish for a certificate or diploma. On the other hand, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these concerns and additional questions that you need to be asking the colleges you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let’s explore the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options provided.
The Job of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an integral component of any Fairbanks dental office and can undertake a wide range of duties. Their principal job description is to furnish assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice operating efficiently. Some Alaska dental assistants elect to specialize and earn certification in a particular area, for example periodontics. Even so the majority of assistants carry out any duty that they are asked to complete, such as:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Ordering dental and office supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so consult with the Alaska dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants handling X-ray machines most likely will have to be licensed and certified. A large number of 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 contrasting the role of a Fairbanks dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and in support of the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the Alaska practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- 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 also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination as well as any state licensing exams. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant & Hygienist Training Options
Dental assistant courses are available at Alaska junior colleges as well as trade or vocational schools. The most common credential acquired is the certificate, which usually takes about a year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more expansive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. Due to the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices are normally 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 trade schools and community colleges. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical component to the training also. Some programs also offer internships with Fairbanks area dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Classes
Enrolling in an online dental assistant or hygienist college can be a great option for getting your education. Just remember that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible via your personal computer in the convenience of your Fairbanks home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Some may even have lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The practical training can typically be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to get the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you may find that attending an online dental college is the right option for you.
Topics to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Schools
When you have decided on the dental specialization and type of credential you wish to attain, you can begin the process of comparing Fairbanks area programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of potential students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they search for some online alternatives as well. Even though these may be relevant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the Alaska schools you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the ideal dental school for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental assistant or hygienist college. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Fairbanks area employers typically prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not offered for non-accredited programs.
Is The Proper Dental Program Available? You can elect to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make sure that the school you choose 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 work as a hygienist, a large number of Fairbanks area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are offered. However, bear in mind that just because a school has an exceptional reputation as well as accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a solid 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, naturally it would not be the ideal college for you.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an essential component of any dental training program. This holds true for the online college options as well. Most Fairbanks area dental schools have associations with area dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only important that the school you select provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in a local dental office that focuses on dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental colleges you are considering sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective way to get hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Fairbanks dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Most graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene schools need help landing their first job. Ask if the schools you are researching have job placement 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 large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Small? Find out from the Alaska schools you are looking at how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal atmosphere for training where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, large classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a couple of classes at the school that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the amount of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene colleges can vary in cost depending on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include expenses 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 costs associated with your education. Most schools have financial assistance offices, so make sure to find out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 99701 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental college, you must make sure that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while getting your education and have to attend classes near Fairbanks in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Select the Right Dental School near Fairbanks AKPicking the right dental hygienist or dental assistant program is important if you want to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several alternatives offered to obtain your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs typically earn either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be practicing in just nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists typically require about two years of studies before they enter the job market. When pursuing either a degree or a certificate you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever credential or mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the right choice. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.