Top Dental Hygienist Schools | How to Become a Dental Assistant near Smithfield NC 27577

How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Smithfield 27577

dental assistant training in Smithfield NCPicking the right dental assistant school near Smithfield NC is an essential initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must examine and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than picking the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant issues to consider as well, including the college’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the 2 specialties you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may depend on the amount of money and time that you are willing to commit. The most typical dental assistant program usually takes about 12 months to complete for a diploma or certificate. On the other hand, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these considerations and additional questions that you need to be asking the schools you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let’s review the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options available.

The Duties of Dental Assistants

Smithfield dental assistant helping dentist 27577Dental assistants are an important component of any Smithfield dental practice and can carry out a multitude of duties. Their primary job description is to provide support to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice working efficiently. Many North Carolina dental assistants elect to specialize and receive certification in a particular area, such as orthodontics. Even so most assistants carry out any task that they are called upon to complete, for example:

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

Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so check with the North Carolina dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants handling X-ray machines more than likely will have to be certified and licensed. Many dental assistants who are either required or decide to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

The Role of Dental Hygienists

Smithfield dental hygienist treating patient in North CarolinaWhen contrasting the role of a Smithfield dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the North Carolina practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient’s teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties may include:

  • Removing stains, tartar and plaque
  • Administering fluoride treatments
  • Polishing teeth and applying sealants
  • Educating patients regarding 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 graduate from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination in addition to passing any state licensing exams. 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 Assistant and Hygienist Education Options

Dental assistant courses are offered at North Carolina community colleges in addition to technical or vocational schools. The most frequent credential acquired is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about one year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more comprehensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. Due to the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental practices are generally required to hold 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 nearly every state. They are also offered in trade schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a clinical aspect to the training also. Many programs also offer internships with Smithfield area dentists or dental practices.

Online Dental Classes

attending dental assistant school online in Smithfield homeSelecting an online dental assistant or hygienist college might be a viable alternative for getting your training. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Smithfield home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending college, online dental classes make education far more obtainable. Many may even charge lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The clinical training can usually be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to obtain the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you may find that enrolling in an online dental school is the right choice for you.

Subjects to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Programs

Questions to ask North Carolina dental colleges 27577When you have decided on the dental specialization and type of credential you wish to earn, you can start the procedure of comparing Smithfield area programs and schools. As we covered at the start of this article, a number of students start by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Maybe they look for some online alternatives as well. Even though these may be relevant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the North Carolina colleges you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the ideal dental school for you.

Is the Dental College Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only select an accredited dental assistant or hygienist school. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the training you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Smithfield area employers frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not available for non-accredited schools.

Is The Appropriate Dental Program Offered? You can choose to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just verify 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. In order to have a career as a hygienist, the majority of Smithfield area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are offered. However, bear in mind that just because a school has a good reputation and 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 just interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the right school for you.

Is Plenty of Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an important component of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. A number of Smithfield area dental programs have partnerships with regional dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the school you enroll in provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in a local dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental programs you are considering sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal means to receive hands-on, practical experience in a professional Smithfield 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 look good on resumes too.

Is Job Placement Support Provided? Many graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene colleges need help landing their first job. Check if the colleges you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental profession in addition to large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.

Are Classrooms Smaller? Find out from the North Carolina colleges you are looking at how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more intimate environment for training where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, bigger classes often are impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a couple of classes at the college that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the level of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.

 What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant colleges can differ in cost depending on the duration of the program and the volume 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 besides the tuition there are other significant costs 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 examining the cost of colleges, don’t forget to include all of the costs associated with your education. Most schools have financial aid departments, so make sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 27577 area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental school, you must confirm that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while acquiring your education and must attend classes near Smithfield 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 addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Choose the Right Dental Program near Smithfield NC

Picking 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 numerous alternatives offered to receive your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can receive your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs typically receive either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be working in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning either a certificate or a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever credential or mode of training 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 start your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.

 

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