How to Find the Right Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Pendleton 29670
Selecting the right dental assistant school near Pendleton SC is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must examine and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than selecting the school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your residence. There are other important issues to consider also, including the program’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 specializations you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may depend on the amount of money and time that you have to commit. The most typical dental assistant program normally takes about 12 months to complete for a diploma or certificate. However, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to finish. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these issues and additional questions that you should be asking the schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s look at the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options available.
The Role of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an important part of any Pendleton dental office and can undertake a myriad of tasks. Their main job description is to provide assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice running successfully. Many South Carolina dental assistants opt to specialize and obtain certification in a particular area, such as periodontics. Even so the majority of assistants carry out any job that they are called upon to fulfill, such as:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Purchasing dental and office supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so check with the South Carolina dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants working with X-ray machines most likely will have to be licensed and certified. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or decide 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 contrasting the role of a Pendleton dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and in support of the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the South Carolina practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients about oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing 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. After 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 & Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant courses are offered at South Carolina junior colleges as well as trade or vocational schools. The most typical credential acquired is the certificate, which usually takes about a year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more comprehensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. As a result of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental practices are often required to hold 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 nearly every state. They are also offered in community colleges and technical schools. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical aspect to the training as well. Many programs also sponsor internships with Pendleton area dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Training Programs
Choosing an online dental assistant or hygienist college may be a viable alternative for receiving your training. Just remember that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Pendleton home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to school, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The practical training can usually be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you might find that enrolling in an dental online college is the ideal option for you.
Questions to Cover With Dental Assistant or Hygienist Schools
Once you have picked the dental specialization and type of credential you would like to attain, you can begin the process of comparing Pendleton area programs and schools. As we covered at the start of this article, a number of students start by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Possibly they search for several online options as well. Although these are significant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the South Carolina programs you are looking at in order to make 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 program for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist or assistant school. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in almost all states. In order 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. Pendleton area employers often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not obtainable for non-accredited schools.
Is The Proper Dental Program Offered? You can choose to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just confirm that the school you select offers the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the options are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. If you want to have a career as a hygienist, many Pendleton area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are available. However, keep in mind that even if a school has an exceptional reputation as well as accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college may have a solid accredited dental assistant program, but may have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are only interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the ideal college for you.
Is Adequate Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a necessary portion of every dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. Most Pendleton area dental colleges have relationships with area dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the college you select provides sufficient 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, confirm that the school you select offers clinical rotation in a regional dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental colleges you are looking at have internship programs. Internships are probably the best way to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Pendleton dental practice. They help 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 Assistance Offered? Most graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant programs require assistance getting their first job. Check if the schools you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental profession in addition to large networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Smaller? Find out from the South Carolina schools you are reviewing how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes generally offer a more personal environment for training where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, 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 amount of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant programs can vary in cost based on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, 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 significant costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of schools, remember to include all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial aid offices, so make sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 29670 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental college, you need to confirm that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while acquiring your education and must attend classes near Pendleton in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still have 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 due to illness, work or family issues.
Pick the Best Dental School near Pendleton SCEnrolling in the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist program is important if you wish to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several options available to acquire your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can obtain your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs normally receive either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be practicing in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists normally require approximately two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When obtaining either a certificate or a degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training or credential you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.