How to Enroll In a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Saint Marie 59231
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist college near Saint Marie MT is an essential initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is much more to doing 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 important factors to take into account as well, including the school’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 depend on the amount of time and money that you are willing to invest. The most common dental assistant program normally takes about 12 months to finish for a certificate or diploma. Meanwhile, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to complete. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the programs you are assessing later in this article. But first, let’s look at the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options available.
The Role of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an indispensable part of any Saint Marie dental practice and can perform a myriad of tasks. Their main job description is to furnish support to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice running successfully. Many Montana dental assistants elect to specialize and acquire certification in a specific area, such as orthodontics. However the majority of assistants perform any duty that they are asked to fulfill, including:
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Readying patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Purchasing office and dental supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so check with the Montana dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants handling 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) exam offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Function of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the job of a Saint Marie dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As previously mentioned, the dental assistant works with and assists the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the Montana practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are frequently the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient’s gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They may also 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
- Educating patients about oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing 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 licensure examinations. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant & Hygienist Training Options
Dental assistant programs are provided at Montana junior colleges as well as technical or vocational schools. The most typical credential earned is the certificate, which generally takes about a year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more extensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. Due to 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 take anywhere from two to as long as three years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in almost every state. They are also offered in trade schools and community colleges. Whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a clinical aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with Saint Marie area dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Programs
Selecting an online dental assistant or hygienist program may be a good alternative for getting your training. Just remember that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Saint Marie home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The practical training can often be completed at a community dental practice 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 discipline for this style of education, you might find that attending an dental online college is the ideal option for you.
Questions to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Programs
After you have selected the dental specialty and type of credential you want to attain, you can begin the process of comparing Saint Marie area programs and schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many potential students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they look for several online options as well. Even though these may be relevant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the Montana schools you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the best dental program for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist or assistant college. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in nearly all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Saint Marie area employers often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited schools.
Is The Proper Dental Program Available? You can choose to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make sure that the school 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. In order to earn a living as a hygienist, many Saint Marie area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are offered. 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 might have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are just interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the right college for you.
Is Plenty of Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an important portion of every dental training program. This is true for the online school options also. A number of Saint Marie area dental programs have partnerships with regional dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the program you choose provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local dental practice that focuses on dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental programs you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the best way to receive hands-on, practical experience in a professional Saint Marie dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Most graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene schools need assistance getting their first job. Find out if the colleges you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental profession in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Small? Check with the Montana programs you are looking at how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes tend to be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the college that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene programs can differ in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, such as 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 costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of schools, don’t forget to include all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance offices, so make sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 59231 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental school, you need to verify that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and need to attend classes near Saint Marie in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Select the Ideal Dental College near Saint Marie MTEnrolling in the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant program is important 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 obtain your training 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 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 normally require about 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When pursuing either a certificate or a degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever credential or mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the right choice. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.