How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Granite City 62040
Picking the ideal dental hygienist program near Granite City IL is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must assess and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than choosing the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your home. There are other significant factors to take into account as well, including the program’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specialties you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may depend on the amount of time and money that you have to commit. The most typical dental assistant program generally takes about 1 year to finish for a diploma or certificate. On the other hand, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these concerns and additional 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 hygienists and assistants and the training options available.
The Role of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an integral component of any Granite City dental office and can undertake a wide range of tasks. Their main job description is to provide assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice running successfully. A number of Illinois dental assistants opt to specialize and receive certification in a specific area, such as periodontics. However most assistants carry out any job that they are called upon to complete, for example:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Supplying 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 deviate by state, so consult with the Illinois dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants working with X-ray machines most likely will need to be certified and licensed. Most dental assistants who are either required or elect 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 Granite City dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. As earlier mentioned, the dental assistant works with and in support of the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the Illinois practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients about oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing 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 as well as any state licensing exams. Once they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant & Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant courses are available at Illinois community colleges along with vocational or technical schools. The most typical credential attained is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about a year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more expansive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. Because of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are usually required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require anywhere from two to as long as three years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly every state. They are also offered in community colleges and technical schools. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical aspect to the training also. Many programs also offer internships with Granite City area dentists or dental practices.
Dental Online Programs
Choosing an online dental hygienist or assistant school can be a good alternative for getting your training. Just remember that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Granite City home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to school, online dental programs make education much more accessible. Many may even have lower tuition costs than their traditional counterparts. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The clinical training can typically be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to get the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you might find that enrolling in an online dental program is the best choice for you.
Questions to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Programs
Once you have picked the dental specialty and kind of credential you wish to obtain, you can start the process of comparing Granite City area programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students start by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they look for several online alternatives as well. Even though these may be important initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the Illinois schools you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the best dental college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist or assistant program. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in virtually all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the instruction you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Granite City area employers frequently desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not available for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Available? You can decide to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just verify that the college you decide on has the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the options are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. In order to work as a hygienist, the majority of Granite City area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, keep in mind that even if a school has a good reputation as well as 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 may have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are primarily interested in a dental hygiene degree, naturally it would not be the right college for you.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an important part of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. Most Granite City area dental programs have associations with local dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the school you choose provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the program you select offers clinical rotation in a regional dental office that specializes in dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental programs you are evaluating have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal method to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a real Granite City dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Most graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant programs need help landing their first job. Find out if the programs you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental profession as well as broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Check with the Illinois programs you are evaluating how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal setting for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes often are impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can monitor a few classes at the school that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant colleges can vary in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant costs 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 comparing the cost of programs, remember to add all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid departments, so make sure to check out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 62040 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental school, you need to make sure that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while acquiring your education and must go to classes near Granite City 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 making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Find the Right Dental Program near Granite City ILPicking the right dental hygienist or dental assistant course is essential if you intend to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of options available 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 training through dental programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools normally earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be practicing in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require about two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When pursuing either a degree or a certificate you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training or credential you choose to pursue, by addressing 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 start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.