How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Lakeside 85929
Choosing the right dental hygienist program near Lakeside FL is an essential initial 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 doing your due diligence than choosing the training with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant issues to consider as well, including the school’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 money and time that you are willing to commit. The most typical dental assistant program normally takes about one year to complete for a certificate or diploma. However, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these issues and additional questions that you need to be asking the schools you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let’s review the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options provided.
The Job of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an integral component of any Lakeside dental office and can carry out a multitude of duties. Their primary job description is to give support to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice running efficiently. Some Florida dental assistants elect to specialize and earn certification in a specific area, for instance orthodontics. Even so most assistants perform any duty that they are called upon to fulfill, such as:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Providing 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 differ by state, so check with the Florida dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants working with X-ray machines most likely will need to be certified and licensed. Most dental assistants who are either required or decide to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Job of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the role of a Lakeside dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and in support of the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the Florida practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
In order to be licensed 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 as well as any state licensing examinations. After they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant and Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant programs are provided at Florida community colleges as well as technical or vocational schools. The most typical credential acquired 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 assistant courses. Because of the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental practices are usually required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require anywhere from two to as long as three years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly every state. They are also offered in vocational schools and community colleges. Whether you are interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical aspect to the training also. Some programs also sponsor internships with Lakeside area dental practices or dentists.
Dental Online Schools
Selecting an online dental hygienist or assistant college might be a good alternative for getting your training. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Lakeside home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Many may even charge lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The practical training can usually be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to receive the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you might find that attending an dental online school is the right choice for you.
Questions to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Schools
After you have decided on the dental specialty and kind of credential you would like to earn, you can start the process of comparing Lakeside area schools and programs. As we covered at the start of this article, a number of prospective students start by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they search for some online alternatives also. Even though these are relevant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the Florida colleges 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 final selection of the best dental school for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist or assistant college. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in virtually all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the training you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Lakeside area employers often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not obtainable for non-accredited programs.
Is The Proper Dental Program Available? You can choose to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make certain that the school you choose has the program that you want. 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 Lakeside area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not prevalent, are offered. However, bear in mind that just because a college 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 might have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are just interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the right school for you.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a vital component of any dental training program. This holds true for the online college options as well. Many Lakeside area dental schools have partnerships with local dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the program you enroll in offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the college you select offers clinical rotation in a regional dental office that specializes in dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental colleges you are evaluating sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective means to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a real Lakeside dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Many graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant colleges need assistance getting their first job. Find out 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 as well as large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Small? Find out from the Florida programs you are evaluating how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more intimate setting for training where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, larger classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can monitor a couple of classes at the college that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant programs can fluctuate in cost depending on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of schools, don’t forget to include all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance offices, so make sure to find out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 85929 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental college, you need to make sure that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while getting your education and need to attend classes near Lakeside in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Ideal Dental School near Lakeside FLPicking the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant course is important if you intend to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many alternatives available to receive your education 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, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs usually receive either a certificate or an Associate Degree. 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 obtaining either a degree or a certificate you can choose to attend 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 better prepared to make the best choice. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.