Search For Dental Hygienist Programs | How to Become a Dental Assistant near Oak Bluffs MA 02557

How to Find the Right Dental Assistant or Hygienist Training Program near Oak Bluffs 02557

dental assistant training in Oak Bluffs MAChoosing the right dental hygienist program near Oak Bluffs MA is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must examine and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than selecting the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your home. There are other significant issues to take into account also, such as the school’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specialties you are most interested in receiving training for, which may depend on the amount of money and time that you are willing to invest. The most common dental assistant program generally takes about 12 months to complete for a diploma or certificate. Meanwhile, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these factors and supplemental questions that you should be asking the schools you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let’s review the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options offered.

The Job of Dental Assistants

Oak Bluffs dental assistant helping dentist 02557Dental assistants are an integral component of any Oak Bluffs dental practice and can perform a myriad 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. Some Massachusetts dental assistants opt to specialize and earn certification in a particular area, for instance pediatrics. Even so most assistants perform any job that they are asked to complete, such as:

  • Scheduling and confirming appointments
  • Readying patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
  • Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
  • Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
  • Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
  • Readying X-ray machines and handling X-rays
  • Ordering dental and office supplies

Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so consult with the Massachusetts dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants handling X-ray machines most likely will have to be certified and licensed. Most dental assistants who are either required or decide to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

The Duties of Dental Hygienists

Oak Bluffs dental hygienist treating patient in MassachusettsWhen contrasting the duties of a Oak Bluffs dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is undoubtedly 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 supporting the Massachusetts practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:

  • Removing plaque, tartar and stains
  • Applying fluoride treatments
  • Applying sealants and polishing teeth
  • Teaching patients regarding oral hygiene
  • Taking X-rays and developing film
  • Applying fillings and removing sutures

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 must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination as well as any state licensing exams. Once they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist and Assistant Education Options

Dental assistant programs are available at Massachusetts junior colleges in addition to vocational or technical schools. The most common credential earned is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about one year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more comprehensive education, including 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 practices are often required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly every state. They are also offered in trade schools and community colleges. Whether you are interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical component to the training as well. Some programs also offer internships with Oak Bluffs area dental practices or dentists.

Dental Online Programs

attending dental assistant school online in Oak Bluffs homeEnrolling in an online dental hygienist or assistant program might be a good option for obtaining your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Oak Bluffs 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 accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The practical training can usually be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of education, you may find that enrolling in an online dental school is the right choice for you.

Topics to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Colleges

Questions to ask Massachusetts dental colleges 02557After you have picked the dental specialty and type of credential you wish to earn, you can begin the process of comparing Oak Bluffs area programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students start by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they look for some online alternatives also. Although these may be relevant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the Massachusetts schools you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental school for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist or assistant school. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in virtually 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 establish that the education you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Oak Bluffs area employers often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not provided for non-accredited programs.

Is The Appropriate Dental Program Available? You can elect to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make certain that the college you choose offers the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to earn a living as a hygienist, many Oak Bluffs area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are offered. However, bear in mind that even if a college has a good reputation and accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a strong 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, clearly it would not be the right college for you.

Is Sufficient Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an important component of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. A number of Oak Bluffs area dental colleges have relationships with area dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the program you choose offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the school you select offers clinical rotation in a local dental office that specializes in dental treatment for children.

Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental colleges you are considering sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal method to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a real Oak Bluffs dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.

Is Job Placement Help Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental assistant or hygiene colleges need help getting their first job. Ask if the schools you are looking at have job placement 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 position their students for internships or employment.

Are the Classrooms Smaller? Find out from the Massachusetts colleges you are interested in how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate environment for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, larger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can sit in on a few classes at the college that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.

 What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene programs can fluctuate in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting 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 assistance offices, so make sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 02557 area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental college, you need to verify that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and must go to classes near Oak Bluffs at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family issues.

Pick the Right Dental School near Oak Bluffs MA

Picking the right dental hygienist or dental assistant program is essential if you intend to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of options available to acquire your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs normally obtain either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be practicing in as little as nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require approximately 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When obtaining either a degree or a certificate you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever credential or mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate selection. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.

 

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