How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Training Program near Farmington 42040
Picking the right dental assistant school near Farmington KY is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than choosing the school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your residence. There are other crucial factors to consider as well, such as the college’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specialties you are most interested in receiving training for, which may depend on the amount of money and time that you have to invest. The most common dental assistant program usually takes about 12 months to finish for a certificate or diploma. Meanwhile, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to finish. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these issues and additional questions that you should be asking the schools you are assessing later in this article. But first, let’s review the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options available.
The Function of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an important part of any Farmington dental office and can carry out a multitude of functions. Their principal job description is to provide assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice running successfully. Some Kentucky dental assistants opt to specialize and obtain certification in a particular area, for instance orthodontics. However most assistants perform any job that they are asked to fulfill, such as:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Purchasing office and dental supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so consult with the Kentucky dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines most likely will have to be licensed and certified. Many dental assistants who are either required or choose to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Job of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the role of a Farmington dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. As previously mentioned, the dental assistant works with and in support of the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the Kentucky practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients about oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
In order to be licensed 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 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 Assistant & Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant programs are offered at Kentucky junior colleges in addition to trade or vocational schools. The most frequent credential acquired is the certificate, which generally takes about a year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more comprehensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. Because of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are usually 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 community colleges and technical schools. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with Farmington area dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Colleges
Selecting an online dental assistant or hygienist school can be a viable alternative for receiving your education. Just remember that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Farmington home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending college, online dental classes make education much more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition rates than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The clinical training can typically be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to get the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you might find that enrolling in an online dental program is the best choice for you.
Topics to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Programs
When you have picked the dental specialty and type of credential you wish to obtain, you can start the process of comparing Farmington area schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many students start by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they look for several online options also. Although these may be significant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the Kentucky programs you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental school for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only select an accredited dental assistant or hygienist college. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the instruction you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Farmington area employers typically prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Correct Dental Program Available? You can elect to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just confirm 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 have a career as a hygienist, most Farmington area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are offered. However, bear in mind that just because a school has a good reputation as well as 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 could have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are primarily interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the ideal school for you.
Is Plenty of Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an essential component of every dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. Most Farmington area dental colleges have partnerships with local dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the school you enroll in provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the program you select offers clinical rotation in a regional dental office that specializes in dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental colleges you are looking at sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal method to receive hands-on, practical experience in a real Farmington dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Many graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant programs require assistance landing their first job. Check if the schools you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Small? Ask the Kentucky programs you are reviewing how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, large classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a couple of classes at the college that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene programs can fluctuate in cost based on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial 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 analyzing the cost of programs, don’t forget to add all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance departments, so make sure to check out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 42040 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental college, you must confirm that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while getting your education and have to go to classes near Farmington in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Dental School near Farmington KYChoosing the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist course is important if you intend to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous alternatives available to acquire your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools typically receive 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 job market. When pursuing either a certificate or a degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training or credential you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the right choice. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.