Accredited Dental Assistant Programs | How to Become a Dental Hygienist near San Felipe TX 77473

How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near San Felipe 77473

dental assistant training in San Felipe TXPicking the right dental assistant school near San Felipe TX is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must examine and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than picking the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your home. There are other significant issues to consider also, for instance the college’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specialties you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you are willing to commit. The most typical dental assistant program generally takes about one year to finish for a diploma or certificate. On the other hand, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you should be asking the programs you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let’s review the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options provided.

The Duties of Dental Assistants

San Felipe dental assistant helping dentist 77473Dental assistants are an essential component of any San Felipe dental office and can undertake a myriad of tasks. Their primary job description is to give assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice operating successfully. A number of Texas dental assistants opt to specialize and earn certification in a particular area, such as pediatrics. Even so most assistants carry out any task that they are called upon to fulfill, including:

  • Setting and confirming appointments
  • Readying patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
  • Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
  • Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
  • Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
  • Prepping X-ray machines and handling X-rays
  • Ordering dental and office supplies

Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so consult with the Texas dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants handling X-ray machines more than likely will need 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 Function of a Dental Hygienist

San Felipe dental hygienist treating patient in TexasWhen comparing the duties of a San Felipe dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is undoubtedly 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 Texas practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s teeth and gums and report their findings to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:

  • Removing plaque, tartar and stains
  • Applying fluoride treatments
  • Polishing teeth and applying sealants
  • Instructing patients regarding oral hygiene
  • Taking X-rays and developing film
  • Removing sutures and applying fillings

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 also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam in addition to passing any state licensure examinations. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist & Assistant Education Options

Dental assistant programs are available at Texas community colleges as well as technical or vocational schools. The most frequent credential acquired is the certificate, which usually takes about one year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more comprehensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. Due to the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental practices are often required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly every state. They are also offered in community colleges and technical schools. Regardless of whether you are pursuing training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical aspect to the training also. Many programs also sponsor internships with San Felipe area dentists or dental practices.

Online Dental Programs

attending dental assistant school online in San Felipe homeSelecting an online dental assistant or hygienist college might be a viable option for receiving your education. Just remember that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your San Felipe home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Some may even charge lower tuition rates than their traditional counterparts. And additional 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 online and clinical training, everything required to obtain the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you may find that attending an online dental college is the best option for you.

Points to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Programs

Questions to ask Texas dental colleges 77473After you have decided on the dental specialty and kind of credential you wish to obtain, you can start the process of comparing San Felipe area schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they look for several online alternatives also. Although these may be significant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should address to the Texas schools you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the right dental program for you.

Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental assistant or hygienist program. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in nearly all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the education you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. San Felipe area employers typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited schools.

Is The Proper Dental Program Available? You can opt to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make sure that the school you select offers the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the choices are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. In order to work as a hygienist, the majority of San Felipe area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are available. However, bear in mind that even if a school has an excellent reputation as well as 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 solely interested in a dental hygiene degree, naturally it would not be the best college for you.

Is Enough Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a necessary portion of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. Many San Felipe area dental schools have relationships with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the school you select provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the program you select offers clinical rotation in an area dental practice that focuses on dental services for children.

Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental colleges you are looking at have internship programs. Internships are probably the best means to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a real San Felipe dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.

Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Most graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant schools require assistance obtaining their first job. Ask if the programs you are looking at 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 community in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.

Are Classrooms Smaller? Check with the Texas programs you are looking at how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally offer a more personal setting for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, bigger classes often are impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a few classes at the school that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the degree of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.

 What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant schools can vary in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But besides 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 comparing the cost of schools, don’t forget to include all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance departments, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 77473 area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental school, you must verify that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and need to attend classes near San Felipe at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, 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 have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.

Enroll in the Right Dental School near San Felipe TX

Picking the right dental hygienist or dental assistant program is crucial if you wish to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several options available to receive your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs usually obtain either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be practicing in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require approximately 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When obtaining either a certificate or a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training or credential you elect to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.

 

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