How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Fort Lauderdale 33301
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist school near Fort Lauderdale FL is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must examine and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than selecting the college with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your residence. There are other crucial issues to consider also, including the college’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the 2 specializations you are most interested in getting training for, which may depend on the amount of money and time that you have to invest. The most common dental assistant program generally takes about one year to complete for a certificate or diploma. Meanwhile, 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 cost. We will talk about all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the colleges you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let’s review the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options offered.
The Duties of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an indispensable part of any Fort Lauderdale dental office and can carry out a variety of duties. Their fundamental job description is to give assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice running successfully. Some Florida dental assistants opt to specialize and receive certification in a particular area, for example pediatrics. Even so the majority of assistants carry out any job that they are asked to fulfill, such as:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Ordering office and dental supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so consult with the Florida dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines most likely will have to be certified and licensed. Many 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 Job of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the job of a Fort Lauderdale dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. As earlier mentioned, 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 often the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching 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 graduate 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 examinations. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant and Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant courses are offered at Florida junior colleges along with vocational or technical schools. The most typical credential earned is the certificate, which usually takes about 1 year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more extensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. Because of the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are often required to hold 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 community colleges and technical schools. Whether you are interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical component to the training also. A number of programs also offer internships with Fort Lauderdale area dental practices or dentists.
Dental Online Schools
Choosing an online dental hygienist or assistant program might be a great option for obtaining your training. Just remember that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Fort Lauderdale home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Many may even have lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The practical training can often be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to get the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of learning, you may find that enrolling in an online dental school is the ideal choice for you.
Topics to Cover With Dental Assistant or Hygienist Programs
After you have selected the dental specialty and kind of credential you would like to earn, you can start the process of comparing Fort Lauderdale area schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many potential students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they search for some online alternatives as well. Even though these are important initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the Florida schools you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the ideal dental program for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental assistant or hygienist college. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in nearly 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 establish that the training you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Fort Lauderdale area employers often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited programs.
Is The Correct Dental Program Offered? You can choose to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make certain that the college you choose offers the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. If you want to have a career as a hygienist, many Fort Lauderdale area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, keep in mind that just because a college 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, obviously it would not be the ideal school for you.
Is Adequate Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a necessary portion of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. Most Fort Lauderdale area dental schools have partnerships with area dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only important that the school you select offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the college you select 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 considering sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective way to receive hands-on, practical experience in a professional Fort Lauderdale dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Many students that have graduated from dental hygiene or assistant colleges need assistance getting 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 community in addition to large networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Small? Ask the Florida programs you are reviewing how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally offer a more personal atmosphere for training where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can monitor a few classes at the college that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the level of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene programs can fluctuate in cost based on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial costs 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 add all of the costs related to your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance departments, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 33301 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental school, you need to verify that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and have to attend classes near Fort Lauderdale in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, 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 need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family issues.
Select the Best Dental School near Fort Lauderdale FLSelecting the right dental hygienist or dental assistant program is important if you intend to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are many alternatives available to receive your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can acquire your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools usually obtain either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be working in just nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When pursuing either a degree or a certificate you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever credential or mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the right choice. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.