How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Fairfield 07004
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist school near Fairfield NJ is an essential first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than picking the college with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other important issues to take into account as well, for instance the college’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specialties you are most interested in receiving training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you have to invest. The most typical dental assistant program generally takes about one year to complete for a certificate or diploma. However, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these factors and supplemental questions that you should be asking the programs you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let’s look at the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options offered.
The Function of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an indispensable part of any Fairfield dental office and can carry out a myriad of tasks. Their primary job description is to provide support to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice running successfully. Some New Jersey dental assistants choose to specialize and earn certification in a particular area, such as orthodontics. Even so most assistants carry out any job that they are called upon to fulfill, for example:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Readying patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Purchasing office and dental supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so consult with the New Jersey dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants working with X-ray machines most likely will have to be certified and licensed. 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 Role of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the job of a Fairfield dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and in support of the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the New Jersey practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- 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 Examination as well as any state licensure exams. Once they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant and Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant programs are available at New Jersey community colleges in addition to technical or vocational schools. The most common credential acquired is the certificate, which usually takes about a year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more comprehensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. As a result of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental practices are generally required to have 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 vocational schools and community colleges. Whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a clinical aspect to the training as well. Many programs also offer internships with Fairfield area dental practices or dentists.
Dental Online Training
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist or assistant program might be a good option for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the comfort of your Fairfield home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to school, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Some may even offer lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The clinical training can typically be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to obtain the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this method of education, you may find that enrolling in an online dental college is the ideal choice for you.
Issues to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Programs
Once you have decided on the dental specialization and type of credential you wish to earn, you can begin the process of comparing Fairfield area programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many students start by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they look for several online alternatives as well. Even though these are significant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you should address to the New Jersey schools you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the right dental program for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only select an accredited dental assistant or hygienist college. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost 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 establish that the education you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Fairfield area employers frequently prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Offered? You can elect to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make certain that the college 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 work as a hygienist, the majority of Fairfield area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are offered. However, keep in mind that just because a school has an excellent reputation and 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 may have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are solely interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the right school for you.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an important portion of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. A number of Fairfield area dental programs 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 enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the program you select offers clinical rotation in a regional dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental colleges you are exploring have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective way to get hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Fairfield dental practice. They make it easier for 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 too.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Many students that have graduated from dental hygiene or assistant programs need assistance obtaining their first job. Find out if the colleges you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental profession in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Small? Find out from the New Jersey programs you are reviewing how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal setting for training where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can sit in on a few classes at the college that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene training can fluctuate in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools 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 expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of programs, remember to include all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid offices, so make sure to check out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 07004 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental college, you must confirm that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while getting your education and need to attend classes near Fairfield in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Find the Best Dental School near Fairfield NJSelecting the right dental hygienist or dental assistant course is important if you want to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of alternatives available to receive your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs normally receive either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be working in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require approximately two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When pursuing either a certificate or a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever credential or mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the right choice. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.