How to Find the Right Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Hampton 37658
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist program near Hampton TN is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than picking the school with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your residence. There are other important issues to consider also, for instance the school’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in receiving training for, which may depend on the amount of time and money that you have to invest. The most typical dental assistant program usually takes about one year to complete for a certificate or diploma. Meanwhile, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to finish. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you should be asking the schools you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let’s look at the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options provided.
The Job of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an essential component of any Hampton dental office and can carry out a multitude of tasks. Their primary job description is to provide support to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice operating successfully. Some Tennessee dental assistants elect to specialize and receive certification in a particular area, such as pediatrics. Even so the majority of assistants perform any job that they are asked to complete, such as:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Ordering dental and office supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so check with the Tennessee dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants working with X-ray machines most likely will have to be licensed and certified. Many dental assistants who are either required or decide to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Role of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the role of a Hampton dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. As earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the Tennessee practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They may also 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
- Teaching patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed 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 Examination in addition to passing any state licensure exams. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist and Assistant Training Options
Dental assistant courses are available at Tennessee junior colleges along with trade or vocational schools. The most common credential earned is the certificate, which usually takes about one year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more comprehensive 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 working in dental practices are normally required to hold 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 virtually every state. They are also offered in vocational schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are pursuing training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a clinical aspect to the training also. Many programs also sponsor internships with Hampton area dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Classes
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist or assistant college may be a great option for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible via your personal computer in the convenience of your Hampton home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental classes make education much more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The clinical training can typically be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to get the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this mode of education, you might find that enrolling in an online dental school is the right option for you.
Points to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Schools
When you have decided on the dental specialization and type of credential you want to obtain, you can begin the process of comparing Hampton area schools and programs. As we covered at the start of this article, many potential students start by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Maybe they search for several online alternatives as well. Although these may be important initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the Tennessee colleges you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental college for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental assistant or hygienist college. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in almost all states. To qualify 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 education you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Hampton area employers frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited programs.
Is The Proper Dental Program Available? You can elect to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make sure that the college you select has the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. If you want to earn a living as a hygienist, most Hampton area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are available. However, keep in mind that even if a college has an exceptional reputation and 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 could 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 best school for you.
Is Adequate Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a vital portion of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. Many Hampton area dental programs have associations with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the school you choose provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a regional dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental colleges you are exploring have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective method to get hands-on, clinical experience in a real Hampton 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 are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Most students that have graduated from dental assistant or hygiene programs require help getting their first job. Ask if the programs you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental profession in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Small? Find out from the Tennessee programs you are evaluating how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more intimate environment for training where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, large classes often are impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can monitor a couple of classes at the college that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the amount of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene programs can vary in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of programs, remember to add all of the expenses associated with your education. Most colleges have financial assistance departments, so be sure to check out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 37658 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental school, you need to confirm that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while acquiring your education and have to attend classes near Hampton at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, 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 because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Pick the Right Dental Program near Hampton TNSelecting the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant program is essential 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 amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools generally receive either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be working in as little as nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists normally require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When pursuing either a certificate or a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training or credential you elect 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 start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.