How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Salida 81201
Selecting the right dental assistant school near Salida CO is an essential initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than selecting the training with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your home. There are other significant issues to take into account also, such as the college’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 specialties you are most interested in getting 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 12 months to complete for a certificate or diploma. On the other hand, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you should be asking the colleges you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s look at the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options provided.
The Duties of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an important component of any Salida dental practice and can undertake a multitude of tasks. Their fundamental job description is to furnish support to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice working successfully. A number of Colorado dental assistants choose to specialize and earn certification in a particular area, for instance orthodontics. However most assistants perform any job that they are asked to complete, for example:
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Readying patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Handing 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 consult with the Colorado dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants working with X-ray machines more than likely will have to be licensed and certified. Most 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 Job of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the job of a Salida dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. As previously mentioned, the dental assistant works with and in support of the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the Colorado practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients about oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed 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 as well as any state licensure exams. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as 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 offered at Colorado community colleges as well as trade or vocational schools. The most typical credential attained is the certificate, which ordinarily 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 assistant courses. As a result of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices are often 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 vocational schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical component to the training as well. Some programs also sponsor internships with Salida area dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Schools
Enrolling in an online dental assistant or hygienist college may be a good option for receiving your training. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Salida home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental classes make education far more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The clinical training can usually be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to receive the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this mode of education, you might find that enrolling in an online dental school is the best option for you.
Points to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Colleges
When you have decided on the dental specialty and kind of credential you want to obtain, you can begin the procedure of comparing Salida area schools and programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they look for several online options also. Although these are relevant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the Colorado programs you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental college for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental assistant or hygienist college. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in nearly 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 ensure that the training you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Salida area employers often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Proper Dental Program Offered? You can decide to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just verify that the college you decide on has the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the options are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to earn a living as a hygienist, the majority of Salida area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are offered. However, bear in mind that just because a school has a good reputation as well as accreditation does not mean all 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 solely interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the best college for you.
Is Adequate Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an essential part of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. Most Salida area dental colleges have partnerships with regional dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the program you choose offers sufficient 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, confirm that the school you select offers clinical rotation in a local dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental colleges you are exploring sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective way to get hands-on, clinical experience in a real Salida 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 also.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental assistant or hygiene programs require assistance getting their first job. Ask if the colleges you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental community as well as large networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Check with the Colorado programs you are interested in how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate setting for training where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes tend to be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can monitor a couple of classes at the school that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant colleges can vary in cost based on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other significant expenses 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 examining the cost of schools, don’t forget to add all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance offices, so make sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 81201 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental college, you must confirm that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while receiving your education and have to attend classes near Salida in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.
Enroll in the Right Dental School near Salida COSelecting the right dental assistant or dental hygienist program is crucial if you want to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many alternatives available to receive your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can receive your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs normally obtain either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be working in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require roughly 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 credential or mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal choice. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.