How to Enroll In a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Training Program near Mercer 38392
Selecting the ideal dental assistant school near Mercer TN is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than selecting the program with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your residence. There are other important factors to take into account also, for instance the college’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in receiving training for, which may be contingent on the amount of time and money that you are willing to invest. The most common dental assistant program generally takes about 12 months to finish for a diploma or certificate. On the other hand, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to complete. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these issues and supplemental questions that you should be asking the schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s review the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options offered.
The Role of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an essential part of any Mercer dental practice and can carry out a wide range of tasks. Their principal job description is to furnish assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice operating efficiently. Some Tennessee dental assistants elect to specialize and receive certification in a specific area, such as orthodontics. However most assistants perform any task that they are called upon to complete, such as:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Purchasing office and dental supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so check with the Tennessee dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines most likely will have to be certified and licensed. 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 Function of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the job of a Mercer dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and in support of the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the Tennessee practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients about oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
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 must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination in addition to passing any state licensure exams. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist and Assistant Training Options
Dental assistant courses are available at Tennessee junior colleges as well as vocational or technical schools. The most common credential acquired is the certificate, which usually takes about a year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more expansive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. Because of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working 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 virtually every state. They are also offered in vocational schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are pursuing 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 Mercer area dental practices or dentists.
Dental Online Training
Enrolling in an online dental assistant or hygienist school might be a good option for receiving your training. Just remember that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Mercer home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental classes make education far more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting 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 online and clinical training, everything required to get the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you might find that attending an online dental college is the ideal option for you.
What to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Colleges
When you have decided on the dental specialty and type of credential you wish to obtain, you can begin the procedure of comparing Mercer area schools and programs. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they look for several online alternatives as well. Although these may be relevant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the Tennessee programs you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental college for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental assistant or hygienist school. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in nearly 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 guarantee that the education you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Mercer area employers often desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not obtainable for non-accredited schools.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Offered? You can opt to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just confirm that the college you decide on offers the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the options are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. If you want to have a career as a hygienist, the majority of Mercer area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are offered. However, keep in mind that just because a school has a good reputation as well as accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college may have a strong accredited dental assistant program, but might have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are solely interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the ideal school for you.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a vital component of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options also. Most Mercer area dental colleges have associations with area dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only important that the college you enroll in offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the college you select offers clinical rotation in a local dental office that focuses on dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental programs you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal means to get hands-on, clinical experience in a real Mercer dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Most students that have graduated from dental assistant or hygiene programs need assistance getting their first job. Ask if the programs you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Small? Find out from the Tennessee colleges you are interested in how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, bigger classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the school that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene schools can fluctuate in cost depending on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But along with 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 equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of colleges, remember to add all of the expenses associated with your education. Most colleges have financial assistance offices, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 38392 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental school, you need to make sure that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while receiving your education and have to attend classes near Mercer at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Find the Ideal Dental School near Mercer TNPicking the right dental hygienist or dental assistant program is essential if you want to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous alternatives offered to obtain 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, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs generally receive either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be practicing in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists typically require roughly two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When obtaining either a degree or a certificate you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training or credential you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.