How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Homosassa Springs 34447
Selecting the ideal dental assistant program near Homosassa Springs FL is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than choosing the college with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant issues to consider also, for instance the college’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the 2 specializations you are most interested in receiving training for, which may be contingent on the amount of time and money that you are willing to commit. The most common dental assistant program usually takes about one year to complete 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 finish. Naturally with the longer 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 schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s look at the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options provided.
The Job of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an integral component of any Homosassa Springs dental office and can perform a multitude of functions. Their primary job description is to provide support to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice running successfully. Some Florida dental assistants opt to specialize and obtain certification in a specific area, such as orthodontics. Even so most assistants carry out any duty that they are asked to complete, for example:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Ordering office and dental supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so check with the Florida dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines most likely will need 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 comparing the role of a Homosassa Springs dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. As earlier mentioned, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the Florida practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are frequently the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing patients regarding oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
In order to be licensed in nearly 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 Examination as well as any state licensure exams. When they have completed 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 programs are available at Florida community colleges as well as technical or vocational schools. The most typical credential earned is the certificate, which generally takes about a year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more comprehensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. Due to the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices are generally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in almost 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 as well. A number of programs also offer internships with Homosassa Springs area dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Programs
Selecting an online dental assistant or hygienist school can be a good option for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible via your personal computer in the comfort of your Homosassa Springs home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental programs make education far more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The clinical training can typically be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to obtain the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this method of learning, you may find that attending an online dental school is the best choice for you.
What to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Schools
Once you have decided on the dental specialization and type of credential you wish to attain, you can start the procedure of comparing Homosassa Springs area schools and programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Maybe they look for some online options also. Even though these may be important initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the Florida programs you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the right dental college for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental assistant or hygienist college. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in virtually 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. Homosassa Springs area employers often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not available for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Correct Dental Program Available? You can decide to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make sure that the college you select offers the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the choices are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to earn a living as a hygienist, most Homosassa Springs area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are offered. However, keep in mind that even if a school has an exceptional 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 might 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 right college for you.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an essential portion of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. Many Homosassa Springs area dental colleges have partnerships with area dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the program you select provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in an area dental practice that specializes in dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental programs you are evaluating have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective way to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a real Homosassa Springs dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Many graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene colleges need help landing their first job. Check 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 community in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Small? Ask the Florida programs you are reviewing how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes generally offer a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, larger classes often are impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a few classes at the school that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene schools can fluctuate in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the colleges and if 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 costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, don’t forget to include all of the expenses associated with your education. Most colleges have financial aid offices, so be sure to ask what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 34447 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental college, you must verify that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while receiving your education and need to go to classes near Homosassa Springs in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Pick the Best Dental College near Homosassa Springs FLEnrolling in the right dental hygienist or dental assistant course is essential if you intend to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several alternatives available to receive your education and it takes a relatively 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 schools typically earn either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be working in just nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When obtaining either a certificate or a degree you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever credential or mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.