Top Dental Assistant Schools | How to Become a Dental Hygienist near Pierre SD 57501

How to Pick a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Pierre 57501

dental assistant training in Pierre SDChoosing the right dental assistant school near Pierre SD is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than picking the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your home. There are other crucial issues to consider also, for instance the college’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specialties you are most interested in receiving training for, which may depend on the amount of time and money that you are willing to commit. The most common dental assistant program generally takes about one year to complete for a diploma or certificate. Meanwhile, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to complete. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these considerations and additional questions that you need to be asking the colleges you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let’s look at the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options provided.

The Role of Dental Assistants

Pierre dental assistant helping dentist 57501Dental assistants are an essential component of any Pierre dental practice and can undertake a variety of tasks. Their principal job description is to furnish assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice running efficiently. Many South Dakota dental assistants elect to specialize and obtain certification in a specific area, for example orthodontics. However most assistants perform any job that they are called upon to complete, including:

  • Scheduling and confirming appointments
  • Prepping patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
  • Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
  • Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
  • Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
  • Prepping 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 Dakota dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines more than likely will have to be licensed and certified. Most dental assistants who are either required or elect to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

The Function of a Dental Hygienist

Pierre dental hygienist treating patient in South DakotaWhen comparing the job of a Pierre dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and in support of the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the South Dakota practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and report their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:

  • Removing tartar, stains and plaque
  • Administering fluoride treatments
  • Polishing teeth and applying sealants
  • Instructing patients about oral hygiene
  • Taking X-rays and developing film
  • Applying fillings and removing sutures

In order to be licensed in almost 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 Examination as well as any state licensure exams. Once they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist & Assistant Education Options

Dental assistant programs are offered at South Dakota junior colleges in addition to trade or vocational schools. The most common credential earned is the certificate, which usually 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 assisting classes. Due to the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices are often required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to finish 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 assistant or hygienist, there will be a clinical aspect to the training also. Many programs also offer internships with Pierre area dentists or dental practices.

Dental Online Training Programs

attending dental assistant school online in Pierre homeEnrolling in an online dental hygienist or assistant program might be a great option for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the convenience of your Pierre home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to school, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Many may even have lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The practical training can often be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to receive the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you may find that enrolling in an dental online school is the ideal option for you.

Subjects to Cover With Dental Assistant or Hygienist Schools

Questions to ask South Dakota dental colleges 57501After you have decided on the dental specialty and type of credential you want to obtain, you can begin the process of comparing Pierre area schools and programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many prospective students start by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they search for several online alternatives also. Even though these are relevant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the South Dakota schools you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the best dental school for you.

Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist or assistant college. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in almost all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the training you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Pierre area employers typically prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited programs.

Is The Appropriate Dental Program Available? You can elect to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just confirm that the college you choose has the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. If you want to work as a hygienist, most Pierre area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are offered. However, bear in mind that just because a school has a good 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 might 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 best school for you.

Is Plenty of Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a vital portion of any dental training program. This holds true for the online college options also. Most Pierre area dental colleges have associations with area dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the college you enroll in provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a regional dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental schools you are exploring sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the best way to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a real Pierre dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Support Offered? Many graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene schools require assistance obtaining their first job. Find out if the programs you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental profession as well as broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.

Are Classrooms Small? Check with the South Dakota colleges you are reviewing how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes can be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can monitor a few classes at the school that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.

 What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant colleges can fluctuate in cost based on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of schools, remember to add all of the costs associated with your education. Most schools have financial aid departments, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 57501 area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental college, you need to verify that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while acquiring your education and have to attend classes near Pierre at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still be required 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 because of illness, work or family responsibilities.

Pick the Ideal Dental School near Pierre SD

Enrolling in the right dental assistant or dental hygienist course is imperative if you want to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous options available to acquire your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs typically receive either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be working in as little as nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists typically require about 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When earning either a degree or a certificate you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of education or credential you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.

 

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