How to Enroll In a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Skagway 99840
Picking the ideal dental assistant program near Skagway AK is an important initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is much more to doing 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 significant issues to take into account as well, including the school’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 common dental assistant program usually takes about one year to finish for a certificate or diploma. However, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these factors and additional questions that you should be asking the colleges you are assessing later in this article. But first, let’s review the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options offered.
The Duties of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an integral part of any Skagway dental practice and can carry out a wide range of tasks. Their principal job description is to provide support to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice working successfully. Some Alaska dental assistants choose to specialize and receive certification in a specific area, for instance periodontics. However the majority of assistants perform any duty that they are asked to complete, for example:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Ordering office and dental supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so consult with the Alaska dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants working with X-ray machines more than likely will have to be certified and licensed. 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
When contrasting the job of a Skagway dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the Alaska practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient’s gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients regarding 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 licensure exams. After they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant and Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant courses are provided at Alaska community colleges as well as trade or vocational schools. The most frequent credential attained is the certificate, which usually takes about a 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 assisting courses. As a result of the added responsibility in contrast 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 finish and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly every state. They are also offered in trade schools and community colleges. Regardless of 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 offer internships with Skagway area dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Schools
Selecting an online dental assistant or hygienist program may be a great option for receiving your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Skagway home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental classes make education much more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. And supplementary expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The practical training can often be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to obtain the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you might find that enrolling in an online dental program is the best option for you.
Questions to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Schools
When you have selected the dental specialization and type of credential you want to earn, you can start the procedure of comparing Skagway area programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, a number of prospective students start by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they search for several online options also. Although these may be relevant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you should address to the Alaska schools you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental program for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist or assistant college. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the training you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Skagway area employers frequently prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not provided for non-accredited schools.
Is The Proper Dental Program Available? You can elect to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make sure 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 work as a hygienist, the majority of Skagway area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not prevalent, are offered. However, keep in mind that just because a school has an exceptional reputation as well as accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college may have a strong accredited dental assistant program, but might have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are just interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the ideal school for you.
Is Enough Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an essential portion of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. Many Skagway area dental programs have associations with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only important that the school you select provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the school you select offers clinical rotation in a local dental office that focuses on dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental colleges you are looking at have an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective way to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Skagway dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Many graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene colleges require assistance landing their first job. Check if the schools you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Small? Find out from the Alaska colleges you are looking at how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more intimate environment for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, bigger classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend 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 enrolling.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene training can differ in cost depending on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of programs, remember to include all of the costs associated with your education. Most colleges have financial assistance offices, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 99840 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental school, you need to make sure that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while acquiring your education and have to attend classes near Skagway in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.
Pick the Best Dental School near Skagway AKSelecting the right dental hygienist or dental assistant program is crucial if you intend to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of options offered to receive your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools usually receive either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be practicing in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists normally require approximately 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When earning either a certificate or a degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training or credential you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the best choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.