How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Training Program near Saginaw 48601
Picking the right dental hygienist program near Saginaw MI is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than picking the school 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 as well, for instance the college’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specialties you are most interested in getting training for, which may depend on the amount of time and money that you are willing to invest. The most typical dental assistant program normally takes about one year to finish for a certificate or diploma. However, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these factors and additional questions that you need to be asking the colleges you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s review the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options offered.
The Duties of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an important part of any Saginaw dental office and can perform a variety of tasks. Their main job description is to furnish assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice operating successfully. Many Michigan dental assistants opt to specialize and receive certification in a particular area, for example periodontics. However the majority of assistants perform any duty that they are asked to fulfill, such as:
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Purchasing office and dental supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so check with the Michigan dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants handling X-ray machines most likely will have to be licensed and certified. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or elect to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Duties of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the duties of a Saginaw 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 Michigan practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out 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
- Educating patients regarding oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
To qualify for licensing in almost all states, dental hygienists must graduate 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 exams. Once they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant & Hygienist Training Options
Dental assistant courses are offered at Michigan community colleges along with vocational or technical schools. The most frequent credential acquired is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about a year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more expansive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. As a result of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices are generally required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take anywhere from two to as long as three years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually every state. They are also offered in trade schools and community colleges. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical aspect to the training also. A number of programs also sponsor internships with Saginaw area dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Colleges
Enrolling in an online dental assistant or hygienist school may be a viable option for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Saginaw home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition rates than their traditional counterparts. And additional expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The practical training can often be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to get the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this style of learning, you might find that enrolling in an online dental school is the ideal option for you.
Points to Cover With Dental Assistant or Hygienist Schools
Once you have selected the dental specialty and type of credential you would like to obtain, you can start the procedure of comparing Saginaw area programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they search for several online options also. Even though these are relevant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you should address to the Michigan schools you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the best dental program for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist or assistant college. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost all states. To qualify 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 education you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Saginaw area employers frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, often they are not available for non-accredited programs.
Is The Right Dental Program Available? You can decide 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 choices are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to earn a living as a hygienist, many Saginaw area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are available. However, keep in mind that just because a college has an excellent reputation as well as 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 solely interested in a dental hygiene degree, naturally it would not be the ideal college for you.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a vital component of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. Many Saginaw area dental schools have associations with area dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the school you select provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in an area dental office that focuses on dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental schools you are exploring have an internship program. Internships are probably the best means to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a real Saginaw dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Many students that have graduated from dental hygiene or assistant programs need assistance getting their first job. Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental profession as well as broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Small? Check with the Michigan colleges you are evaluating how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a couple of classes at the college that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant schools can differ in cost depending on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools and whether 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 costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, don’t forget to add all of the costs related to your education. Most colleges have financial assistance departments, so make sure to check out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 48601 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental college, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while getting your education and need to go to classes near Saginaw in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.
Pick the Ideal Dental Program near Saginaw MIEnrolling in the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant program is imperative if you wish to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of alternatives offered to acquire your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can acquire your formal training 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 just nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists normally require about two years of studies before they enter the job market. When obtaining either a certificate or a degree you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of education or credential you decide to pursue, by asking 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 start your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.