Accredited Dental Assistant Programs | How to Become a Dental Hygienist near Shawnee CO 80475

How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Shawnee 80475

dental assistant training in Shawnee COSelecting the right dental assistant training near Shawnee CO is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than selecting the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your residence. There are other important factors to take into account also, for instance the school’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in receiving 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 1 year to complete for a certificate or diploma. However, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to finish. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these concerns and additional questions that you need to be asking the programs you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s look at the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options offered.

The Duties of a Dental Assistant

Shawnee dental assistant helping dentist 80475Dental assistants are an indispensable part of any Shawnee dental office and can perform a myriad of functions. Their principal job description is to furnish support to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice operating efficiently. Some Colorado dental assistants opt to specialize and obtain certification in a particular area, for instance periodontics. However most assistants perform any task that they are called upon to fulfill, including:

  • Setting and verifying appointments
  • Preparing patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
  • Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
  • Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
  • Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
  • Preparing X-ray machines and handling X-rays
  • Ordering office and dental supplies

Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so consult with the Colorado dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines more than likely will have to be certified and licensed. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or elect to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

The Role of Dental Hygienists

Shawnee dental hygienist treating patient in ColoradoWhen comparing the duties of a Shawnee 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 Colorado practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties may include:

  • Removing stains, tartar and plaque
  • Administering fluoride treatments
  • Applying sealants and polishing teeth
  • Teaching patients about oral care
  • Taking and developing X-rays
  • Applying fillings and removing sutures

To qualify for licensing 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 Exam in addition to passing any state licensing exams. Once they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Assistant and Hygienist Training Options

Dental assistant courses are provided at Colorado community colleges in addition to vocational or technical schools. The most typical credential attained is the certificate, which generally takes about 1 year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more expansive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. Due to the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are normally required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require 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 community colleges and technical schools. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical component to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with Shawnee area dentists or dental practices.

Dental Online Programs

attending dental assistant school online in Shawnee homeSelecting an online dental hygienist or assistant college might be a viable alternative for getting your education. Just remember that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Shawnee home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition costs than their on-campus counterparts. And supplementary expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The clinical training can typically be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to get the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this style of education, you might find that attending an online dental college is the best option for you.

Points to Cover With Dental Assistant or Hygienist Colleges

Questions to ask Colorado dental colleges 80475After you have selected the dental specialty and type of credential you would like to earn, you can begin the procedure of comparing Shawnee area programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many students start by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Possibly they search for several online options also. Although these may be relevant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the Colorado programs you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the best dental program for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental assistant or hygienist program. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement 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 ensure that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Shawnee area employers typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not available for non-accredited programs.

Is The Correct Dental Program Offered? You can elect to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make sure that the college you choose 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 work as a hygienist, many Shawnee area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are available. However, bear in mind that just because a school has an exceptional reputation and 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 may have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are only interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the right school for you.

Is Adequate Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an essential component of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. Many Shawnee area dental programs have partnerships with regional dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the school you enroll in provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a regional dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.

Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental colleges you are looking at have internship programs. Internships are probably the best means to get hands-on, practical experience in a real Shawnee 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 look good on resumes as well.

Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Many graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene colleges require assistance landing their first job. Ask if the programs you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental profession in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.

Are the Classes Small? Find out from the Colorado colleges you are interested in how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can sit in on a few classes at the school that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.

 What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene colleges can vary in cost depending on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of programs, remember to include all of the expenses associated with your education. Most schools have financial assistance departments, so make sure to ask what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 80475 area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental school, you need to verify that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and must go to classes near Shawnee 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 protocol is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family issues.

Select the Right Dental School near Shawnee CO

Choosing the right dental assistant or dental hygienist program is important if you want to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous alternatives offered to receive your education and it takes a relatively short amount 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 typically earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be practicing in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require about two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When pursuing either a certificate or a degree you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever credential or mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the right selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.

 

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