How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Odessa 79760
Picking the ideal dental hygienist school near Odessa TX is an important initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must examine and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than choosing the program with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other important factors to consider 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 getting training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you have to commit. The most common dental assistant program normally takes about 12 months to finish for a certificate or diploma. Meanwhile, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to complete. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these concerns and additional questions that you need to be asking the schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s explore the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options offered.
The Function of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an indispensable part of any Odessa dental office and can carry out a variety of duties. Their primary job description is to provide support to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice running efficiently. Some Texas dental assistants opt to specialize and acquire certification in a specific area, for instance pediatrics. Even so most assistants perform any duty that they are called upon to complete, for example:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- 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 Texas dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants handling X-ray machines more than likely will need to be licensed and certified. Most dental assistants who are either required or choose to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Job of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the job of a Odessa dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the Texas practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine every 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 can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- 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 as well as any state licensure exams. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant and Hygienist Training Options
Dental assistant programs are offered at Texas community colleges as well as vocational or technical schools. The most common credential acquired is the certificate, which generally takes about one year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more extensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. Because of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are normally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require anywhere from two to as long as three 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 assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical aspect to the training also. A number of programs also offer internships with Odessa area dentists or dental practices.
Dental Online Training Programs
Selecting an online dental assistant or hygienist school may be a viable option for obtaining your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Odessa home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending school, online dental classes make education a lot more obtainable. Some may even charge lower tuition rates than their traditional competitors. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The clinical training can often 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 proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you might find that attending an online dental college is the best choice for you.
Topics to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Schools
Once you have decided on the dental specialization and type of credential you want to attain, you can start the procedure of comparing Odessa area programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, many prospective students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they look for some online alternatives also. Although these may be important initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the Texas programs you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the best dental program for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental assistant or hygienist program. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the education you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Odessa area employers often desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Right Dental Program Offered? You can choose to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just verify that the college you select has the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the choices are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. If you want to work as a hygienist, the majority of Odessa area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not prevalent, are offered. However, keep in mind that just because a college has an excellent reputation and accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a solid accredited dental assistant program, but could 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 Adequate Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an important portion of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. Most Odessa area dental schools have relationships with local dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the program you enroll in provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the school you select offers clinical rotation in an area dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental schools you are exploring sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal means to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Odessa dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Many graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene schools need help obtaining their first job. Check if the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental profession in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Smaller? Check with the Texas programs you are evaluating how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, bigger classes often are impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can monitor a couple of classes at the school that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene schools can vary in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, remember to add all of the expenses associated with your education. Most schools have financial assistance offices, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 79760 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental college, you must make sure that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and have to go to classes near Odessa 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 procedure is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Ideal Dental College near Odessa TXChoosing the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant course is essential if you intend to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many alternatives offered to receive 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 community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools generally obtain either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be working in just nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists normally require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When pursuing either a certificate or a degree you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever credential or mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate selection. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.