How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Training Program near Pearlington 39572
Picking the right dental assistant school near Pearlington MS is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than selecting the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other crucial factors to consider as well, such as the school’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 specialties you are most interested in receiving training for, which may be contingent on the amount of time and money that you are willing to commit. The most common dental assistant program usually takes about 12 months to finish for a diploma or certificate. However, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to complete. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these factors and additional questions that you need to be asking the schools you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let’s look at the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options provided.
The Job of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an essential component of any Pearlington dental office and can carry out a variety of duties. Their principal job description is to provide support to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice running efficiently. A number of Mississippi dental assistants choose to specialize and earn certification in a particular area, such as orthodontics. However most assistants perform any task that they are called upon to complete, such as:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Readying patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Purchasing dental and office supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so consult with the Mississippi dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants working with X-ray machines more than likely will have to be licensed and certified. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or opt to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Function of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the job of a Pearlington dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the Mississippi practice, deal 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 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 may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients about 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 have graduated from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam in addition to passing any state licensure examinations. Once they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist & Assistant Education Options
Dental assistant courses are provided at Mississippi community colleges along with trade or vocational schools. The most typical credential attained is the certificate, which generally takes about 1 year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more extensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. As a result of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices are normally required to have 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. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical component to the training as well. Many programs also offer internships with Pearlington area dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Classes
Enrolling in an online dental assistant or hygienist college may be a great option for getting your training. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Pearlington home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental classes make education much more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The clinical training can usually be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to obtain the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you may find that enrolling in an dental online school is the ideal option for you.
Points to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Programs
After you have selected the dental specialty and kind of credential you wish to earn, you can begin the process of comparing Pearlington area schools and programs. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many potential students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they search for some online options as well. Even though these are significant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you should address to the Mississippi programs you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied 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 good reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist or assistant college. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition 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 ensure that the instruction you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Pearlington area employers often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, often they are not available for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Right Dental Program Available? You can opt to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just confirm that the college you choose has the program that you want. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. If you want to earn a living as a hygienist, a large number of Pearlington area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are offered. However, bear in mind that even if a school has a good reputation as well as accreditation does not mean all 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 primarily interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the right college for you.
Is Plenty of Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a necessary part of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options also. Many Pearlington area dental programs have associations with area dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only important that the school you choose offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the program you select offers clinical rotation in a local dental office that specializes in dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental colleges you are evaluating have an internship program. Internships are probably the best method to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a real Pearlington dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Many graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene programs need help obtaining their first job. Find out if the schools you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental community as well as large networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Check with the Mississippi schools you are looking at how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate setting for training where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, bigger classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can attend a few classes at the school that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the level of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene colleges can vary in cost based on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of programs, remember to include all of the expenses associated with your education. Most schools have financial assistance departments, so make sure to check out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 39572 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental college, you must confirm that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while receiving your education and need to go to classes near Pearlington in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Dental Program near Pearlington MSEnrolling in the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist program is important if you intend to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many options available to acquire your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can obtain your formal education through dental programs at junior 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 practicing in as little as nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require approximately two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When obtaining either a degree or a certificate you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of education or credential you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the best choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.