How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Fairfax 74637
Selecting the right dental hygienist training near Fairfax OK is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than choosing the training with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your home. There are other significant factors to take into account as well, for instance the school’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in receiving training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you are willing to invest. The most common dental assistant program generally takes about 1 year to complete for a certificate or diploma. However, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Naturally with the prolonged 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 reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options offered.
The Job of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an indispensable component of any Fairfax dental office and can undertake a myriad of functions. Their main job description is to provide support to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice running efficiently. Many Oklahoma dental assistants elect to specialize and acquire certification in a particular area, for instance periodontics. However the majority of assistants perform any job that they are called upon to fulfill, for example:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Purchasing office and dental supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so check with the Oklahoma dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants working 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 opt to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Function of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the job of a Fairfax dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As previously mentioned, the dental assistant works with and in support of the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the Oklahoma practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth 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
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients about oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
To qualify for licensing in almost all states, dental hygienists must graduate from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination as well as any state licensure examinations. Once 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 & Assistant Education Options
Dental assistant courses are available at Oklahoma junior colleges as well as trade or vocational schools. The most typical credential attained is the certificate, which usually takes about 1 year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more extensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. As a result of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices are normally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 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 pursuing training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a clinical component to the training as well. Some programs also sponsor internships with Fairfax area dentists or dental practices.
Dental Online Colleges
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist or assistant program can be a viable option for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Fairfax home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending school, online dental programs make education much more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition rates than their traditional competitors. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The practical training can often be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to receive the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you may find that enrolling in an online dental college is the best choice for you.
Topics to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Schools
When you have picked the dental specialization and kind of credential you would like to attain, you can start the procedure of comparing Fairfax area programs and schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Perhaps they search for several online options also. Even though these are important initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the Oklahoma schools you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the right dental program for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist or assistant college. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in nearly all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the training you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Fairfax area employers often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not provided for non-accredited schools.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Offered? You can opt to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just confirm that the college you select has the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to work as a hygienist, a large number of Fairfax area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are available. However, bear in mind that just because a school has an exceptional reputation and accreditation does not mean each one 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 just interested in a dental hygiene degree, naturally it would not be the ideal college for you.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an essential component of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. A number of Fairfax area dental colleges have relationships with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the college you enroll in provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a regional dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental colleges you are exploring sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective method to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Fairfax 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 as well.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Many students that have graduated from dental assistant or hygiene programs need help getting their first job. Find out if the schools you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental community as well as large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Small? Find out from the Oklahoma schools you are reviewing how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal environment for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the school that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant colleges can differ in cost dependent on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other significant 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 comparing the cost of colleges, don’t forget to add all of the expenses associated with your education. Most schools have financial aid offices, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 74637 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental college, you need to confirm that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while receiving your education and need to attend classes near Fairfax at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Ideal Dental School near Fairfax OKEnrolling in the right dental assistant or dental hygienist course is imperative if you intend to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of alternatives offered to obtain your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools typically receive either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be practicing in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists typically require about 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When earning either a certificate or a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of education or credential you elect to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the right selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.