How to Pick a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Rutherford 38369
Choosing the ideal dental assistant college near Rutherford TN is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than selecting the training with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your home. There are other important factors to take into account also, for instance the college’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the 2 specialties 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 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 two to three years to finish. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these concerns and additional questions that you need to be asking the colleges you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s review the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options offered.
The Role of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an important component of any Rutherford dental office and can perform a myriad of tasks. Their main job description is to furnish support to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice operating successfully. Many Tennessee dental assistants elect to specialize and earn certification in a specific area, for example periodontics. Even so the majority of assistants perform any task that they are called upon to complete, including:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Readying patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Ordering office and dental supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so consult with the Tennessee dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines more than likely will have to be certified and licensed. A large number of 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 Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the duties of a Rutherford dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. As previously mentioned, the dental assistant works with and assists the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the Tennessee practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients about oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
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 must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination in addition to passing any state licensing examinations. 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 Tennessee community colleges as well as trade or vocational schools. The most common credential acquired is the certificate, which generally takes about a year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more extensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. Due to the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are usually required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take 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 community colleges and technical schools. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical component to the training also. Many programs also sponsor internships with Rutherford area dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Colleges
Selecting an online dental assistant or hygienist college may be a viable alternative for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Rutherford home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental programs make education much more accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The clinical training can typically be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to get the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you might find that attending an online dental school is the right choice for you.
Issues to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Colleges
Once you have decided on the dental specialization and kind of credential you wish to attain, you can start the process of comparing Rutherford area programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, a number of potential students start by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they search for several online alternatives also. Although these may be important initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you should address to the Tennessee programs you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the ideal dental program for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist or assistant program. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite 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 establish that the instruction you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Rutherford area employers frequently prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Offered? You can elect to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make certain that the college you choose offers the program that you want. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to earn a living as a hygienist, most Rutherford area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are offered. However, keep in mind that even if a college 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 might have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are primarily interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the right college for you.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an essential portion of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options also. A number of Rutherford area dental programs have associations with local dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the program you choose offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in an area dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental programs you are exploring sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the best means to get hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Rutherford dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Many graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene colleges need assistance getting their first job. Find out if the programs you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental community in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Smaller? Find out from the Tennessee schools you are evaluating how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal atmosphere for training where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes tend to be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a few classes at the college that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant programs can fluctuate in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of programs, don’t forget to include all of the costs related to 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 38369 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental college, you need to confirm that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and have to go to classes near Rutherford at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still need to schedule your practical 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.
Enroll in the Right Dental Program near Rutherford TNPicking the right dental hygienist or dental assistant course is essential if you wish to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several options offered to obtain your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs typically obtain either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be working in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require about 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When obtaining either a degree or a certificate you can elect 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 best selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.