Accredited Dental Assistant Schools | How to Become a Dental Assistant near La Grange MO 63448

How to Pick a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Training Program near La Grange 63448

dental assistant training in La Grange MOPicking the ideal dental hygienist school near La Grange MO is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must examine and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than choosing the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other significant factors to consider also, such as the college’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the 2 specialties you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may be contingent on the amount of time and money that you are willing to invest. The most typical dental assistant program generally takes about 1 year to finish for a diploma or certificate. However, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to finish. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these factors and additional questions that you should be asking the colleges you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s look at the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options offered.

The Job of a Dental Assistant

La Grange dental assistant helping dentist 63448Dental assistants are an important component of any La Grange dental practice and can perform a multitude of functions. Their fundamental job description is to give support to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice operating successfully. A number of Missouri dental assistants opt to specialize and earn certification in a particular area, for example orthodontics. However most assistants perform any duty that they are called upon to fulfill, such as:

  • Setting and verifying appointments
  • Preparing patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
  • Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
  • Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
  • Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
  • Preparing X-ray machines and processing X-rays
  • Purchasing dental and office supplies

Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so check with the Missouri dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants working with X-ray machines most likely will have to be certified and licensed. Many dental assistants who are either required or decide to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

The Duties of a Dental Hygienist

La Grange dental hygienist treating patient in MissouriWhen contrasting the duties of a La Grange dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the Missouri practice, deal 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 teeth and gums and present their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities may include:

  • Removing plaque, tartar and stains
  • Administering fluoride treatments
  • Applying sealants and polishing teeth
  • Teaching patients regarding oral hygiene
  • Taking and developing X-rays
  • Applying fillings and removing sutures

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 Examination as well as any state licensure exams. Once they have completed these requirements they are regarded as 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 offered at Missouri junior colleges in addition to trade or vocational schools. The most frequent credential attained is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about one year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more expansive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. Due to the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are normally 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 nearly every state. They are also offered in trade 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 as well. Many programs also sponsor internships with La Grange area dentists or dental practices.

Online Dental Training Programs

attending dental assistant school online in La Grange homeEnrolling in an online dental hygienist or assistant program may be a good option for receiving your training. Just remember that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the comfort of your La Grange home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental programs make education much more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition costs than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The practical training can usually be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to obtain the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you may find that attending an online dental college is the right choice for you.

Points to Cover With Dental Assistant or Hygienist Schools

Questions to ask Missouri dental colleges 63448When you have picked the dental specialization and type of credential you want to earn, you can begin the process of comparing La Grange area schools and programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they search for several online options as well. Even though these may be relevant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the Missouri 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 ultimate selection of the best dental college for you.

Is the Dental College Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental assistant or hygienist college. 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 examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the instruction you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. La Grange area employers frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not offered for non-accredited programs.

Is The Proper Dental Program Available? You can opt to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make certain that the college you select offers 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 work as a hygienist, many La Grange area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are offered. However, keep in mind that just because a college has an exceptional 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 just interested in a dental hygiene degree, naturally it would not be the right college for you.

Is Sufficient Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a necessary component of every dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. A number of La Grange area dental colleges have associations with regional dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only important that the program you enroll in offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in an area dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental schools you are considering have internship programs. Internships are probably the best means to get hands-on, practical experience in a professional La Grange dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes as well.

Is Job Placement Help Offered? Most graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant schools require help landing their first job. Check if the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental profession in addition to large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.

Are the Classrooms Small? Find out from the Missouri colleges you are interested in how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally offer a more personal environment for training where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the school that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the level of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.

 What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant programs can differ in cost based on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant 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, remember to include all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial aid offices, so make sure to ask what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 63448 area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental school, you must confirm that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and have to attend classes near La Grange in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, 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 work, illness or family issues.

Enroll in the Right Dental Program near La Grange MO

Choosing the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant course is imperative if you intend to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several alternatives available to obtain your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can acquire your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools normally earn either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be working in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists normally require approximately two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When pursuing either a certificate or a degree you can elect to go to 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 best selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.

 

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