How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Saratoga 77585
Choosing the ideal dental assistant program near Saratoga TX is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than choosing the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your home. There are other important factors to take into account as well, including the program’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specialties you are most interested in receiving training for, which may depend on the amount of money and time that you have to invest. The most typical dental assistant program normally takes about 1 year to finish for a diploma or certificate. However, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to finish. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s look at the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options offered.
The Duties of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an important component of any Saratoga dental practice and can carry out a wide range of duties. Their fundamental job description is to furnish support to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice operating successfully. A number of Texas dental assistants choose to specialize and earn certification in a particular area, such as periodontics. However most assistants perform any task that they are asked to complete, for example:
- Scheduling 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
- Prepping X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Purchasing dental and office supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so consult with the Texas dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines more than likely will need 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 provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Job of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the duties of a Saratoga dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. As earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the Texas practice, work 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 each patient’s gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
To qualify for licensing 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 Exam in addition to passing any state licensing exams. Once 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 courses are offered at Texas community colleges as well as technical or vocational schools. The most common credential acquired is the certificate, which usually takes about a year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more expansive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. 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 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 vocational schools and community colleges. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with Saratoga area dental practices or dentists.
Dental Online Classes
Selecting an online dental assistant or hygienist college may be a viable option for receiving your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the comfort of your Saratoga home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to college, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The practical training can usually be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to obtain the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you may find that attending an dental online college is the best option for you.
Subjects to Cover With Dental Assistant or Hygienist Colleges
When you have selected the dental specialization and type of credential you want to attain, you can begin the process of comparing Saratoga area schools and programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of students start by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Perhaps they search for several online alternatives also. Even though these may be relevant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the Texas schools you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the best dental college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental assistant or hygienist college. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in almost all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the education you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Saratoga area employers often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not provided for non-accredited programs.
Is The Right Dental Program Available? You can decide to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just confirm that the college you select has the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the options are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. If you want to have a career as a hygienist, the majority of Saratoga 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 a good reputation and accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college may have a strong accredited dental assistant program, but may have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are only interested in a dental hygiene degree, naturally it would not be the best college for you.
Is Enough Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an important portion of any dental training program. This holds true for the online college options also. Many Saratoga area dental colleges have relationships with area dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the program you select 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 are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental colleges you are looking at sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal method to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a real Saratoga 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 as well.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Most graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene programs require help landing their first job. Find out if the schools you are reviewing 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 as well as broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Small? Find out from the Texas colleges you are evaluating how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes often are impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can monitor a few classes at the school that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant schools can differ in cost based on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also have an impact. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of schools, don’t forget to include all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance departments, so be sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 77585 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental school, you must make sure 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 have to attend classes near Saratoga at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Find the Ideal Dental School near Saratoga TXChoosing the right dental hygienist or dental assistant program is essential if you want to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many alternatives 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 junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs normally obtain either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be working in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists typically require about 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When pursuing either a degree or a certificate you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of education or credential you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate choice. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.