How to Find the Right Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Tupelo 38801
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist program near Tupelo MS is an important initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than selecting the school with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your residence. There are other crucial issues to consider as well, such as the college’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 specialties you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you have to commit. The most typical dental assistant program usually takes about 1 year to complete for a diploma or certificate. Meanwhile, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these factors and additional questions that you should be asking the colleges you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let’s look at the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options available.
The Function of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an integral part of any Tupelo dental practice and can carry out a variety of tasks. Their main job description is to furnish assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice operating efficiently. Many Mississippi dental assistants choose to specialize and earn certification in a particular area, for instance periodontics. However most assistants perform any duty that they are asked to fulfill, such as:
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Readying patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Purchasing dental and office supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so consult with the Mississippi dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants handling X-ray machines more than likely will have to be licensed and certified. Many 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
When comparing the job of a Tupelo dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and in support of the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the Mississippi practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing patients about oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
In order to be licensed in almost all states, dental hygienists must have graduated from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam in addition to passing any state licensure examinations. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist and Assistant Education Options
Dental assistant courses are provided at Mississippi junior colleges as well as technical or vocational schools. The most frequent credential earned is the certificate, which usually takes about a year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more extensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. Because of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental practices are often required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take 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 vocational 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. A number of programs also offer internships with Tupelo area dental practices or dentists.
Dental Online Classes
Choosing an online dental hygienist or assistant school may be a viable option for receiving your training. Just remember that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Tupelo home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to college, online dental programs make education much more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The practical training can typically be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to get the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you might find that enrolling in an dental online school is the right option for you.
Topics to Cover With Dental Assistant or Hygienist Schools
Once you have decided on the dental specialization and type of credential you wish to earn, you can start the process of comparing Tupelo area programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many potential students start by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they look for some online alternatives also. Although these may be important initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the Mississippi colleges you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the ideal dental school for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist or assistant program. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in nearly all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the training you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Tupelo area employers frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not offered for non-accredited schools.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Offered? You can opt to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just confirm that the school you select has the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to have a career as a hygienist, a large number of Tupelo area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are offered. However, keep in mind that even if a college has an exceptional reputation and accreditation does not mean each one 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 primarily interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the ideal school for you.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a vital portion of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. Most Tupelo area dental schools have relationships with local dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the college you choose offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the program you select offers clinical rotation in an area dental office that specializes in dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental programs you are looking at have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal means to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a real Tupelo dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Most graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene schools need assistance landing their first job. Find out if the programs you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental community in addition to large networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Smaller? Ask the Mississippi schools you are reviewing how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal environment for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, larger classes can be 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 amount of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene schools can vary in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private 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 equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of colleges, don’t forget to include all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial aid offices, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 38801 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental college, you need to verify that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while receiving your education and need to go to classes near Tupelo at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still have 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 illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Dental Program near Tupelo MSSelecting the right dental hygienist or dental assistant course is crucial if you want to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several options available to obtain your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools typically obtain 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 roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When earning either a degree or a certificate you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of education or credential you decide to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the best selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.