How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Saint Leonard 20685
Selecting the ideal dental assistant college near Saint Leonard MD is an important initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than choosing the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your home. There are other significant issues to consider also, for instance the school’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may be contingent on the amount of time and money that you have to commit. The most common dental assistant program usually takes about 1 year to finish for a diploma or certificate. On the other hand, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these issues and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the colleges you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s look at the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options available.
The Duties of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an essential component of any Saint Leonard dental practice and can undertake a multitude of tasks. Their principal job description is to furnish support to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice working successfully. A number of Maryland dental assistants opt to specialize and earn certification in a specific area, for example pediatrics. Even so the majority of assistants carry out any duty that they are asked to complete, such as:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Readying patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Purchasing office and dental supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so consult with the Maryland dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines most 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 provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Function of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the job of a Saint Leonard 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 in support of the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the Maryland practice, deal 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 also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients regarding oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
In order to be licensed in almost 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 Exam in addition to passing any state licensing exams. Once they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant & Hygienist Training Options
Dental assistant programs are offered at Maryland community colleges along with trade or vocational schools. The most common credential acquired is the certificate, which usually takes about 1 year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more expansive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. Because of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices are often required to hold 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 community colleges and technical schools. Regardless of whether you are pursuing training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a clinical component to the training also. A number of programs also offer internships with Saint Leonard area dentists or dental practices.
Dental Online Training
Selecting an online dental hygienist or assistant program might be a good option for receiving your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Saint Leonard home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to college, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Some may even have lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The clinical training can usually be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to receive the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you might find that attending an online dental school is the best option for you.
Questions to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Colleges
When you have selected the dental specialty and type of credential you would like to obtain, you can begin the procedure of comparing Saint Leonard area schools and programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they look for several online alternatives as well. Even though these may be important initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the Maryland schools you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the best dental college for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several good 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 condition in almost all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental school 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. Saint Leonard area employers typically desire 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 available for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Correct Dental Program Offered? You can decide to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make sure that the school you decide on 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 Saint Leonard area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not prevalent, are offered. However, keep in mind that even if a college has a good reputation and accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a solid 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, obviously it would not be the ideal college for you.
Is Enough Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an important component of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. A number of Saint Leonard area dental programs have partnerships with area dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the school you select provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the program you select offers clinical rotation in a regional dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental colleges you are evaluating have internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective means to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a real Saint Leonard 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 Support Offered? Many graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant colleges require help landing their first job. Ask if the schools 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 as well as large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Check with the Maryland colleges you are reviewing how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate environment for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, large classes tend to be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the school that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the amount of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant schools can fluctuate in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But in addition to 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 equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of programs, don’t forget to include 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 loans, grants and scholarships in the 20685 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental school, you must make sure that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while acquiring your education and must attend classes near Saint Leonard in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family issues.
Select the Ideal Dental College near Saint Leonard MDSelecting the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist course is important if you want to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many options available to obtain your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs usually receive either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be working in as little as nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists normally require about two years of studies before they enter the job market. When pursuing either a degree or a certificate you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever credential or mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the right selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.