Find Dental Hygienist Training | How to Become a Dental Assistant near Lake Saint Louis MO 63367

How to Find the Right Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Lake Saint Louis 63367

dental assistant training in Lake Saint Louis MOChoosing the right dental assistant training near Lake Saint Louis MO is an important initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than picking the school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your home. There are other significant issues to consider also, for instance the school’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 specialties you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may depend on the amount of time and money that you are willing to invest. The most common dental assistant program normally takes about 12 months to complete for a certificate or diploma. However, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to complete. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these factors and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options provided.

The Function of Dental Assistants

Lake Saint Louis dental assistant helping dentist 63367Dental assistants are an important part of any Lake Saint Louis dental office and can undertake a wide range of tasks. Their main job description is to furnish assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice running efficiently. Many Missouri dental assistants opt to specialize and earn certification in a specific area, such as orthodontics. However the majority of assistants carry out any duty that they are called upon to fulfill, such as:

  • Scheduling and verifying appointments
  • Readying patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
  • Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
  • Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
  • Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
  • Prepping X-ray machines and processing X-rays
  • Purchasing dental and office supplies

Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so check with the Missouri dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines more than likely will need to be licensed and certified. Many 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 Role of a Dental Hygienist

Lake Saint Louis dental hygienist treating patient in MissouriWhen contrasting the role of a Lake Saint Louis dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. As earlier mentioned, the dental assistant works with and in support of the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the Missouri practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:

  • Removing plaque, tartar and stains
  • Administering fluoride treatments
  • Polishing teeth and applying sealants
  • Educating patients regarding oral care
  • 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 Exam in addition to passing any state licensure exams. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist & Assistant Education Options

Dental assistant courses are available at Missouri junior colleges along with vocational or technical schools. The most common credential earned is the certificate, which generally takes about a year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more expansive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. Because of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are often required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take 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 community colleges and technical schools. Whether you are interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical component to the training also. Some programs also sponsor internships with Lake Saint Louis area dental practices or dentists.

Dental Online Programs

attending dental assistant school online in Lake Saint Louis homeChoosing an online dental hygienist or assistant program might be a good alternative for obtaining your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Lake Saint Louis home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental programs make education far more accessible. Many may even have lower tuition rates than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened 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 get the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of education, you may find that attending an dental online school is the ideal choice for you.

Points to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Schools

Questions to ask Missouri dental colleges 63367When you have picked the dental specialty and kind of credential you would like to attain, you can begin the procedure of comparing Lake Saint Louis area programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, many potential students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they search for several online options as well. Although these may be relevant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the Missouri colleges you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the right dental program for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental assistant or hygienist program. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in nearly all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the training you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Lake Saint Louis area employers typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not offered for non-accredited schools.

Is The Appropriate Dental Program Available? You can decide to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make certain that the college you choose offers the program that you want. For the assistant program, the choices are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. If you want to earn a living as a hygienist, the majority of Lake Saint Louis area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are available. However, keep in mind that even if a college has a good 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 might 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 best college for you.

Is Sufficient Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an essential part of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. A number of Lake Saint Louis area dental schools have partnerships with area dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the college you choose provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a regional dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental programs you are considering sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective method to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a real Lake Saint Louis dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Help Offered? Many graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant schools require help obtaining their first job. Find out if the schools you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools 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 refer their students for internships or employment.

Are Classes Small? Check with the Missouri schools you are reviewing how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate environment for training where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, larger classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a couple of classes at the school that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.

 What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant colleges can differ in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of schools, don’t forget to add all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial aid offices, so make sure to ask what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 63367 area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental school, you must confirm that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while acquiring your education and have to attend classes near Lake Saint Louis in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family responsibilities.

Choose the Best Dental Program near Lake Saint Louis MO

Enrolling in the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist course is important if you wish to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several alternatives offered to acquire your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs usually obtain either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be practicing in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists typically require approximately two years of studies before they enter the work force. When earning either a certificate or a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of education or credential you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the right selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.

 

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