How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Littlefield 79339
Choosing the right dental hygienist training near Littlefield TX is an essential initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than choosing the college with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other important issues to consider as well, for instance the program’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the 2 specializations 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 normally takes about 12 months to finish for a diploma or certificate. Meanwhile, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these issues and additional questions that you should be asking the colleges you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options available.
The Role of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an indispensable component of any Littlefield dental office and can carry out a wide range of duties. Their main job description is to give support to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice operating efficiently. A number of Texas dental assistants opt to specialize and earn certification in a particular area, such as orthodontics. Even so most assistants perform any duty that they are called upon to fulfill, for example:
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Readying patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Ordering dental and office supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so check with the Texas dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines most likely will need to be certified and licensed. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or opt to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Job of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the job of a Littlefield dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the Texas practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients about 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 must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination in addition to passing any state licensure exams. When 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 Hygienist and Assistant Training Options
Dental assistant courses are available at Texas junior colleges in addition to technical or vocational schools. The most typical credential attained is the certificate, which generally takes about one year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more extensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. Due to the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices are usually required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly every state. They are also offered in community colleges and technical schools. Whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical aspect to the training also. A number of programs also sponsor internships with Littlefield area dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Training
Selecting an online dental hygienist or assistant program might be a good alternative for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Littlefield home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to school, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Some may even charge lower tuition costs than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The practical training can typically be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to get the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this mode of education, you may find that enrolling in an dental online program is the right option for you.
What to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Colleges
When you have selected the dental specialization and type of credential you wish to attain, you can start the process of comparing Littlefield area schools and programs. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students start by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Perhaps they search for several online options also. Although these may be significant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the Texas programs you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence 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 program. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in virtually all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the instruction you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Littlefield area employers typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not obtainable for non-accredited schools.
Is The Right Dental Program Available? You can choose to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make sure that the school you select has 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. In order to have a career as a hygienist, most Littlefield area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are offered. However, keep in mind that even if a school has an exceptional reputation as well as accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a solid accredited dental assistant program, but might 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 Enough Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an essential component of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. Most Littlefield area dental colleges have relationships with area dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the college you select offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental programs you are looking at have internship programs. Internships are probably the best method to get hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Littlefield dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Most graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene schools require assistance obtaining their first job. Check if the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental profession in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Check with the Texas schools you are interested in how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal setting for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes tend to be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a few classes at the college that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene training can fluctuate in cost dependent 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 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 textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of schools, remember to include all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial assistance offices, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 79339 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental school, you must confirm that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while acquiring your education and need to go to classes near Littlefield at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Dental School near Littlefield TXSelecting the right dental assistant or dental hygienist course is essential if you intend to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of options offered to receive your training and it takes a fairly short period 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 schools usually earn either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be practicing in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require approximately two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When obtaining either a degree or a certificate you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training or credential you decide to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal selection. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.