How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Longmont 80501
Selecting the right dental hygienist program near Longmont CO is an essential first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than choosing the school with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your home. There are other crucial factors to take into account also, such as the college’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 specializations you are most interested in getting training for, which may be contingent on the amount of time and money that you have to commit. The most typical dental assistant program usually takes about one year to complete for a certificate or diploma. Meanwhile, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to finish. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the programs you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let’s look at the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options available.
The Role of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an important part of any Longmont dental office and can perform a myriad of functions. Their primary job description is to furnish support to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice operating efficiently. Many Colorado dental assistants elect to specialize and earn certification in a specific area, such as pediatrics. However the majority of assistants perform any task that they are called upon to complete, including:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Ordering office and dental supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so consult with the Colorado dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines most likely will have to be certified and licensed. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or choose to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Job of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the duties of a Longmont dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. As earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the Colorado practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients about oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
To qualify for licensing in almost all states, dental hygienists must have graduated 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 examinations. When they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist & Assistant Education Options
Dental assistant courses are available at Colorado community colleges as well as technical or vocational schools. The most typical credential attained is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about a year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more expansive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. As a result of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are generally required to hold 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 almost 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 component to the training also. Many programs also sponsor internships with Longmont area dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Training
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist or assistant school can be a good option for receiving your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Longmont home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Some may even charge lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The clinical training can typically be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to obtain the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this style of education, you may find that enrolling in an dental online school is the right choice for you.
Subjects to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Colleges
Once you have decided on the dental specialty and kind of credential you would like to obtain, you can start the process of comparing Longmont area schools and programs. As we covered at the start of this article, a number of prospective students start by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Perhaps they look for several online alternatives also. Even though these are important initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the Colorado schools you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental program for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist or assistant program. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Longmont area employers often desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not obtainable for non-accredited schools.
Is The Correct Dental Program Available? You can choose to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just verify that the school you choose offers the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the options are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. If you want to work as a hygienist, most Longmont area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are offered. However, keep in mind that even if a school has a good reputation and 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 could have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are solely interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the best school for you.
Is Enough Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an important part of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. Most Longmont area dental schools have associations with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the school you choose provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in an area dental practice that focuses on dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental schools you are considering sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective means to get hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Longmont dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental hygiene or assistant schools need assistance landing their first job. Find out if the programs you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental community in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Smaller? Check with the Colorado colleges you are looking at how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more intimate setting for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, larger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the college that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant colleges can differ in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, 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 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 comparing the cost of programs, remember to add all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid departments, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 80501 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental school, you need to confirm that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and must attend classes near Longmont at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Dental School near Longmont COChoosing the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant program is essential if you intend to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many alternatives offered to acquire your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs typically receive either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be working in just nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists normally require about 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When obtaining either a degree or a certificate you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of education or credential you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the right choice. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.