Top Dental Assistant Programs | How to Become a Dental Assistant near Salem AR 72576

How to Pick a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Training Program near Salem 72576

dental assistant training in Salem ARChoosing the right dental hygienist school near Salem AR is an important initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must examine and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than selecting the training with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other important factors to consider also, such as the program’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 depend on the amount of time and money that you are willing to invest. The most common dental assistant program usually takes about one year to finish for a diploma or certificate. Meanwhile, dental hygienists typically 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 issues and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the schools you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let’s review the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options provided.

The Duties of Dental Assistants

Salem dental assistant helping dentist 72576Dental assistants are an important part of any Salem dental office and can carry out a myriad of functions. Their main job description is to provide assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice working efficiently. Many Arkansas dental assistants elect to specialize and acquire certification in a specific area, for instance periodontics. Even so the majority of assistants perform any task that they are called upon to fulfill, such as:

  • Scheduling and confirming appointments
  • Readying patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
  • Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
  • Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
  • Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
  • Preparing 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 Arkansas dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants handling X-ray machines more than likely will have to be licensed and certified. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or decide to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

The Role of a Dental Hygienist

Salem dental hygienist treating patient in ArkansasWhen comparing the job of a Salem dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the Arkansas practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:

  • Removing stains, tartar and plaque
  • Applying fluoride treatments
  • Polishing teeth and applying sealants
  • Educating patients regarding oral care
  • Taking and developing X-rays
  • 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 must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination as well as any state licensing 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 Assistant & Hygienist Training Options

Dental assistant courses are provided at Arkansas community colleges along with vocational or technical schools. The most common credential attained is the certificate, which usually takes about one year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more extensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. Due to the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental practices are generally required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in almost every state. They are also offered in trade schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are pursuing training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a clinical component to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with Salem area dentists or dental practices.

Online Dental Training

attending dental assistant school online in Salem homeChoosing an online dental hygienist or assistant program may be a great alternative for receiving your training. Just remember that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Salem home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to school, online dental classes make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The clinical training can often be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this method of learning, you may find that enrolling in an dental online college is the ideal option for you.

Questions to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Colleges

Questions to ask Arkansas dental colleges 72576When you have selected the dental specialization and type of credential you want to attain, you can start the process of comparing Salem area programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Perhaps they look for several online alternatives as well. Although these may be relevant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you should address to the Arkansas schools you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the ideal dental program for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist or assistant college. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in almost all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the training you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Salem area employers often desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited schools.

Is The Correct Dental Program Offered? You can choose to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just confirm that the college you choose has the program that you want. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. If you want to have a career as a hygienist, a large number of Salem area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not prevalent, are offered. However, bear in mind that just because a school has a good reputation and accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a solid accredited dental assistant program, but might have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are only interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the ideal college for you.

Is Sufficient Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an essential portion of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. Most Salem area dental schools have partnerships with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the program you enroll in provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the college you enroll in 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 programs you are considering have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal way to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Salem dental practice. They help 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 too.

Is Job Placement Help Offered? Many graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene programs require assistance landing their first job. Ask if the schools you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.

Are Classrooms Smaller? Ask the Arkansas colleges you are reviewing how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal setting for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, bigger classes often are impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the school that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.

 What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant programs can differ in cost based on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant 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 programs, remember to include all of the costs associated with your education. Most schools have financial aid offices, so make sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 72576 area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental school, you must verify that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while acquiring your education and must go to classes near Salem 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 making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Choose the Right Dental College near Salem AR

Enrolling in the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant program is essential if you intend to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous alternatives offered to acquire your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools usually obtain either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be practicing in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists normally require roughly two years of studies before they enter the job market. When earning either a certificate or a degree you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever credential or mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.

 

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