How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Laguna Park 76644
Selecting the right dental hygienist program near Laguna Park TX is an essential first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than picking the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other significant factors to take into account as well, including the school’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specializations 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 normally takes about one year to complete for a certificate or diploma. On the other hand, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these factors and additional questions that you need to be asking the schools you are assessing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options available.
The Job of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an essential part of any Laguna Park dental office and can perform a wide range of tasks. Their fundamental job description is to provide support to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice working efficiently. A number of Texas dental assistants opt to specialize and obtain certification in a specific area, such as orthodontics. However most assistants perform any task that they are asked to complete, for example:
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Ordering dental and office supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so consult with the Texas dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines more than likely will have 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 Function of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the role of a Laguna Park dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the Texas practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing in almost 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. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist & Assistant Training Options
Dental assistant programs are available at Texas community colleges as well as trade or vocational schools. The most common credential earned is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about one year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more extensive 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 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 nearly every state. They are also offered in community colleges and technical schools. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical aspect to the training also. A number of programs also offer internships with Laguna Park area dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Colleges
Choosing an online dental assistant or hygienist school can be a great alternative for getting your training. Just remember that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Laguna Park home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending college, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And supplementary expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The practical training can often be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this method of education, you might find that enrolling in an dental online school is the best option for you.
Topics to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Colleges
After you have decided on the dental specialty and type of credential you want to attain, you can begin the process of comparing Laguna Park area programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, a number of students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they look for several online options also. Although these are important initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the Texas programs you are comparing in order to reach 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 program for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist or assistant school. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the education you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Laguna Park area employers typically prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited programs.
Is The Right Dental Program Offered? You can choose to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just verify that the school you decide on has the program that you want. For the assistant program, the options are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to have a career as a hygienist, most Laguna Park area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, bear in mind that even if a school has an excellent reputation and accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a solid accredited dental assistant program, but may have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are only interested in a dental hygiene degree, naturally it would not be the ideal school for you.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a necessary portion of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. Most Laguna Park area dental colleges have partnerships with local dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the school you select offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental schools you are looking at have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal means to receive hands-on, practical experience in a real Laguna Park dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental hygiene or assistant schools require help getting their first job. Ask if the programs you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Small? Find out from the Texas programs you are interested in how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal setting for training where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes can be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the college that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene training can differ in cost based on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of programs, don’t forget to add all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid offices, so be sure to check out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 76644 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental college, you need to confirm that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while receiving your education and need to attend classes near Laguna Park in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Dental College near Laguna Park TXEnrolling in the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist program is crucial if you intend to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous options available to receive your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can receive your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs generally receive either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be practicing in just nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When earning either a certificate or a degree you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of education or credential you choose 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.