How to Enroll In a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Parkston 57366
Selecting the right dental hygienist school near Parkston SD is an important initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than picking the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other crucial issues to consider also, for instance the school’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specialties you are most interested in getting training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you are willing to commit. The most common dental assistant program usually takes about 1 year to complete for a diploma or certificate. However, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you should be asking the schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s review the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options available.
The Function of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an important component of any Parkston dental practice and can carry out a multitude of functions. Their fundamental job description is to provide support to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice working efficiently. Many South Dakota dental assistants elect to specialize and receive certification in a particular area, for example orthodontics. However most assistants carry out any task that they are asked to complete, for example:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Purchasing dental and office supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so check with the South Dakota dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants working with X-ray machines more than likely will have to be certified and licensed. 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 Role of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the job of a Parkston dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. As previously mentioned, the dental assistant works with and in support of the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the South Dakota practice, work 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 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
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients regarding oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- 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 also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination as well as any state licensure exams. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant and Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant programs are available at South Dakota junior colleges along with trade or vocational schools. The most common credential attained is the certificate, which generally takes about a year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more extensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. As a result of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental practices are generally 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 virtually every state. They are also offered in vocational schools and community colleges. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical component to the training also. A number of programs also offer internships with Parkston area dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Programs
Selecting an online dental hygienist or assistant school may be a good option for receiving your education. Just remember that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the comfort of your Parkston home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. 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 counterparts. And additional expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The clinical training can often be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to obtain the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this method of education, you may find that attending an online dental program is the ideal option for you.
Points to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Programs
After you have decided on the dental specialty and type of credential you want to attain, you can begin the process of comparing Parkston 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 schools. Possibly they search for some online options also. Even though these may be significant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the South Dakota programs you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the right dental school for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist or assistant college. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in virtually 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 instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Parkston area employers typically prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not available for non-accredited programs.
Is The Right Dental Program Available? You can decide to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just confirm that the school you choose 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 have a career as a hygienist, a large number of Parkston area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, keep in mind that even if a college has an exceptional 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 might have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are only interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the ideal school for you.
Is Plenty of Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a necessary part of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options also. Most Parkston area dental colleges have partnerships with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the college you select offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental programs you are considering sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the best method to get hands-on, practical experience in a professional Parkston dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Many graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant schools need help getting their first job. Check if the programs you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental community in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Small? Ask the South Dakota programs you are evaluating how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal environment for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a few classes at the college that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant programs can differ in cost based on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But along with 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 equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of programs, don’t forget to add all of the expenses related to your education. Most schools have financial aid offices, so make sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 57366 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental college, you need to confirm that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while acquiring your education and have to go to classes near Parkston at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still need to schedule your practical 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.
Select the Right Dental Program near Parkston SDChoosing the right dental assistant or dental hygienist course is important if you want to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many options available to obtain your education and it takes a fairly short period 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 approximately 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing either a degree or a certificate you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training or credential you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.