How to Pick a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Fort Richardson 99505
Selecting the ideal dental assistant college near Fort Richardson AK is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than selecting the program with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other important issues to take into account also, for instance the school’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial 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 typical dental assistant program usually takes about 1 year to complete for a diploma or certificate. Meanwhile, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these concerns and additional questions that you need to be asking the schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s review the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options available.
The Role of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an important part of any Fort Richardson dental practice and can undertake a wide range of duties. Their principal job description is to provide support to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice operating efficiently. A number of Alaska dental assistants elect to specialize and receive certification in a particular area, for instance periodontics. Even so the majority of assistants carry out any duty that they are asked to fulfill, for example:
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Purchasing office and dental supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so consult with the Alaska 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 opt to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Duties of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the role of a Fort Richardson dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. As earlier mentioned, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the Alaska practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
To qualify for licensing in almost all states, dental hygienists must have graduated from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam as well as any state licensure exams. Once they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant and Hygienist Training Options
Dental assistant programs are available at Alaska junior colleges as well as vocational or technical schools. The most frequent credential acquired is the certificate, which generally takes about one year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more extensive 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 offices are usually required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in almost every state. They are also offered in vocational schools and community colleges. Whether you are interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical aspect to the training as well. Many programs also sponsor internships with Fort Richardson area dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Programs
Selecting an online dental hygienist or assistant program can be a viable option for getting your training. Just remember that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Fort Richardson home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to college, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The clinical training can usually be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to receive the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you may find that attending an online dental school is the ideal choice for you.
Issues to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Colleges
After you have picked the dental specialty and type of credential you would like to earn, you can start the procedure of comparing Fort Richardson area schools and programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they search for some online alternatives also. Even though these may be relevant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the Alaska schools you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the best dental college for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only select an accredited dental assistant or hygienist program. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in nearly all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the instruction you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Fort Richardson area employers often desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Right Dental Program Available? You can elect to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just verify that the college you decide on has 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 Fort Richardson area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, bear in mind that just because a college has an excellent reputation as well as accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a strong accredited dental assistant program, but may 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 best college for you.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a vital component of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. Many Fort Richardson area dental programs have relationships with local dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the college you select offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in a local dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental programs you are evaluating have internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal method to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Fort Richardson dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Many graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene schools need assistance obtaining their first job. Ask if the schools you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental profession in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Ask the Alaska colleges you are looking at how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate atmosphere for training where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the school that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant training can fluctuate in cost based on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, for example 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 expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of schools, don’t forget to add all of the costs related to your education. The majority of schools have financial aid offices, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 99505 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental college, you must confirm that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and have to go to classes near Fort Richardson at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Pick the Best Dental School near Fort Richardson AKChoosing the right dental hygienist or dental assistant program is imperative if you want to take the CDA exam 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 relatively short amount of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can obtain your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools generally obtain either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be practicing in as little as nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require about two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When obtaining either a certificate or a degree you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever credential or mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions presented 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.