How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Kailua Kona 96740
Selecting the ideal dental assistant school near Kailua Kona HI is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than choosing the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your home. There are other important factors to consider also, such as the school’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in getting training for, which may depend on the amount of money and time that you have to commit. The most common dental assistant program generally takes about one year to finish for a diploma or certificate. Meanwhile, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to complete. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these factors and additional questions that you should be asking the colleges you are assessing later in this article. But first, let’s review the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options offered.
The Function of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an important component of any Kailua Kona dental practice and can carry out a wide range 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 working efficiently. A number of Hawaii dental assistants elect to specialize and receive certification in a particular area, for example pediatrics. Even so most assistants carry out any duty that they are called upon to fulfill, including:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Readying patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Purchasing office and dental supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so consult with the Hawaii dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines more than likely will need to be licensed and certified. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or choose to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Duties of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the job of a Kailua Kona dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. As earlier mentioned, the dental assistant works with and in support of the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the Hawaii practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- 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 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 licensure examinations. When they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant & Hygienist Training Options
Dental assistant programs are offered at Hawaii community colleges in addition to technical or vocational schools. The most common credential attained is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about a year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more expansive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. Due to the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are normally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually every state. They are also offered in community colleges and technical schools. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with Kailua Kona area dentists or dental practices.
Dental Online Colleges
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist or assistant school can be a viable option for obtaining your training. Just remember that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Kailua Kona home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Some may even have lower tuition costs than their on-campus competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The clinical training can usually be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to receive the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you might find that enrolling in an dental online program is the right choice for you.
Points to Cover With Dental Assistant or Hygienist Programs
Once you have selected the dental specialty and kind of credential you would like to earn, you can begin the process of comparing Kailua Kona area schools and programs. As we covered at the start of this article, many potential students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they search for several online alternatives as well. Although these may be important initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the Hawaii programs you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the right dental college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist or assistant program. If you are going 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 establish that the training you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Kailua Kona area employers frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Proper Dental Program Offered? You can elect to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make sure that the school you decide on offers 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. If you want to work as a hygienist, most Kailua Kona area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are offered. However, keep in mind that just because a school has an excellent reputation as well as accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college may have a solid 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, naturally it would not be the ideal school for you.
Is Adequate Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an essential component of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. Many Kailua Kona area dental schools have relationships with regional dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the college you choose 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, verify that the school you select offers clinical rotation in an area dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental schools you are exploring have internship programs. Internships are probably the best way to get hands-on, practical experience in a real Kailua Kona dental practice. They help 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 as well.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Most graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene schools need help landing their first job. Find out if the colleges you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges 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 position their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Small? Find out from the Hawaii programs you are interested in how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more personal setting for training where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, bigger classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the school that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the amount of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene programs can fluctuate in cost dependent on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, don’t forget to include all of the costs associated with your education. Most schools have financial assistance departments, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 96740 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental school, you must make sure that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and need to go to classes near Kailua Kona at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Ideal Dental School near Kailua Kona HIPicking the right dental assistant or dental hygienist course is important if you intend to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several options offered to obtain your training 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 junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs normally earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be working in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists normally require approximately 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When obtaining either a degree or a certificate you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of education or credential you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the best selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.