How to Enroll In a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Fernandina Beach 32034
Choosing the right dental hygienist college near Fernandina Beach FL is an important initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than selecting the school with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other significant issues to take into account also, such as the program’s accreditation and reputation. 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 have to invest. The most common dental assistant program usually takes about 12 months to complete for a certificate or diploma. Meanwhile, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to finish. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these concerns and additional questions that you should be asking the programs you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s explore the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options offered.
The Function of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an important part of any Fernandina Beach dental practice and can perform a wide range of functions. Their primary job description is to give assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice operating successfully. Some Florida dental assistants elect to specialize and obtain certification in a specific area, for instance orthodontics. However the majority of assistants perform any job that they are asked to complete, including:
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Readying patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Ordering office and dental supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so check with the Florida dental board for your state’s regulations. 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 choose to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Duties of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the job of a Fernandina Beach dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and in support of the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the Florida 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 teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients about oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing in almost 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 may add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist and Assistant Training Options
Dental assistant programs are available at Florida community colleges as well as technical or vocational schools. The most frequent credential attained is the certificate, which usually takes about 1 year to finish. There are fewer 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 increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are generally 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 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 also. Some programs also sponsor internships with Fernandina Beach area dental practices or dentists.
Dental Online Training
Choosing an online dental hygienist or assistant school might be a great alternative for receiving your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Fernandina Beach home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to college, online dental programs make education much more accessible. Many may even have lower tuition costs than their on-campus competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The practical training can typically be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you might find that enrolling in an online dental program is the best option for you.
Topics to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Schools
After you have selected the dental specialty and type of credential you wish to obtain, you can begin the process of comparing Fernandina Beach area schools and programs. As we discussed at the start of this article, a number of prospective students start by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they look for several online options as well. Although these are significant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the Florida colleges you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the ideal dental program for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental assistant or hygienist school. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the training you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Fernandina Beach area employers frequently prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not available for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Correct Dental Program Available? You can choose to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make sure that the college you choose offers the program that you want. For the assistant program, the choices are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. In order to earn a living as a hygienist, a large number of Fernandina Beach area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are offered. However, keep in mind that just because a college has a good reputation and accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college may have a solid accredited dental assistant program, but might 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 best 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 college options also. Many Fernandina Beach area dental schools have associations with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only important that the school you enroll in offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently want 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 local dental office that focuses on dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental schools you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective method to get hands-on, practical experience in a professional Fernandina Beach dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental hygiene or assistant programs require help landing their first job. Check if the programs you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental profession in addition to large networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Check with the Florida schools you are evaluating how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate setting for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, larger classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a few classes at the college that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the amount of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant training can differ in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of schools, remember to add all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance offices, so be sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 32034 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental college, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while acquiring your education and must go to classes near Fernandina Beach at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family issues.
Select the Ideal Dental Program near Fernandina Beach FLSelecting the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant program is important if you wish to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of alternatives available to acquire your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs typically obtain either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be practicing in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists normally require approximately two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When pursuing either a certificate or a degree you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever credential or mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking 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 start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.