How to Pick a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Topsfield 04490
Picking the ideal dental hygienist college near Topsfield ME is an essential first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than choosing the training with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your home. There are other significant factors to consider as well, for instance the school’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the 2 specializations you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may depend on the amount of time and money that you are willing to commit. The most typical dental assistant program generally takes about 12 months to finish for a certificate or diploma. On the other hand, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to complete. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these concerns and additional questions that you need to be asking the schools you are assessing later in this article. But first, let’s review the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options provided.
The Duties of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an important part of any Topsfield dental office and can undertake a variety of functions. Their principal job description is to furnish assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice operating efficiently. Some Maine dental assistants elect to specialize and acquire certification in a specific area, for instance periodontics. However the majority of assistants carry out any job that they are called upon to fulfill, for example:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- 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
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so consult with the Maine dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants handling X-ray machines most likely will have to be certified and licensed. Many dental assistants who are either required or elect to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Role of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the duties of a Topsfield dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and in support of the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the Maine practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing in almost 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 as well as any state licensing exams. When they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant and Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant courses are provided at Maine junior colleges in addition to trade or vocational schools. The most common credential earned is the certificate, which generally takes about 1 year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more expansive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. Due to the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are generally required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in almost every state. They are also offered in trade schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical aspect to the training also. Many programs also offer internships with Topsfield area dental practices or dentists.
Dental Online Colleges
Enrolling in an online dental assistant or hygienist college might be a viable option for getting your education. Just remember that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Topsfield home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to school, online dental programs make education far more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition costs than their traditional counterparts. And added expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The practical training can often be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you might find that attending an dental online college is the right option for you.
Topics to Cover With Dental Assistant or Hygienist Schools
After you have selected the dental specialty and kind of credential you would like to attain, you can start the process of comparing Topsfield area programs and schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they look for several online alternatives also. Even though these may be important initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the Maine programs you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the ideal dental school for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist or assistant college. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in virtually all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Topsfield area employers often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not obtainable for non-accredited programs.
Is The Right Dental Program Offered? You can elect to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make sure that the school you decide on offers 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, many Topsfield area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, bear in mind that even if a college has an excellent reputation as well as accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a solid accredited dental assistant program, but might 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 right college for you.
Is Plenty of Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a vital portion of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. Most Topsfield area dental programs have partnerships with regional dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the program you enroll in offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a regional dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental schools you are evaluating have internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal means to get hands-on, clinical experience in a real Topsfield dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental hygiene or assistant colleges require assistance landing their first job. Find out if the colleges you are researching 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 as well as broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Smaller? Ask the Maine programs you are interested in how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate environment for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes often are impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the college that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant training can vary in cost dependent on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of programs, remember to add all of the expenses associated with your education. Most colleges have financial aid departments, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 04490 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental college, you need to verify that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and must go to classes near Topsfield in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Select the Best Dental Program near Topsfield MESelecting the right dental assistant or dental hygienist course is essential if you wish to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous options available to receive your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs normally earn either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be working in just nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require approximately two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When pursuing either a certificate or a degree you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training or credential you decide to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the right choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.