How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Petersburg 99833
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist school near Petersburg AK is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than picking the college with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other crucial factors to take into account also, such as the program’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the 2 specializations you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you are willing to invest. The most typical dental assistant program usually takes about 12 months to complete for a certificate or diploma. On the other hand, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to complete. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these factors 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 assistants and hygienists and the training options available.
The Job of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an integral part of any Petersburg dental practice and can undertake a multitude of functions. Their primary job description is to give assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice operating successfully. Some Alaska dental assistants elect to specialize and earn certification in a specific area, for instance periodontics. However the majority of assistants perform any duty that they are asked to complete, including:
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Ordering office and dental supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so check with the Alaska dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines most 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 provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Function of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the duties of a Petersburg 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 dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the Alaska practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients about oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
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 in addition to passing any state licensure exams. When they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist & Assistant Training Options
Dental assistant programs are available at Alaska junior colleges in addition to technical or vocational schools. The most frequent credential attained is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about one year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more expansive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. As a result of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental practices are normally 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 almost every state. They are also offered in trade schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are pursuing training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical aspect to the training also. A number of programs also sponsor internships with Petersburg area dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Schools
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist or assistant program can be a viable option for obtaining your education. Just remember that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible via your personal computer in the convenience of your Petersburg home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending school, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The practical training can typically be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to obtain the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you may find that attending an dental online school is the ideal choice for you.
Points to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Programs
When you have decided on the dental specialty and type of credential you want to attain, you can start the process of comparing Petersburg area programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many potential students start by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they search for several online options as well. Even though these may be significant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the Alaska programs you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist or assistant program. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in nearly all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental college 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. Petersburg area employers often desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited programs.
Is The Correct Dental Program Offered? You can opt to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make sure that the college you decide on offers the program that you want. For the assistant program, the options are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. If you want to work as a hygienist, many Petersburg area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not prevalent, are available. 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 primarily interested in a dental hygiene degree, naturally it would not be the ideal school for you.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an important component of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. A number of Petersburg area dental schools have associations with local dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the college you select provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in an area dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental schools you are evaluating sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal means to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a real Petersburg dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Many graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant schools require assistance landing their first job. Check if the colleges you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates are likely to have good 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 Smaller? Find out from the Alaska colleges you are looking at how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, large classes tend to be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the school that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene training can vary in cost based on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other significant 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 colleges, remember to add all of the costs related to your education. Most schools have financial assistance departments, so be sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 99833 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental college, you need to confirm that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and have to go to classes near Petersburg 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 making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Ideal Dental College near Petersburg AKEnrolling in the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant course is imperative if you want to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several alternatives offered to receive your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools usually earn either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be practicing in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require about 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When obtaining either a degree or a certificate you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training or credential you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.