How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Walkersville 21793
Choosing the right dental hygienist school near Walkersville MD is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than selecting the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your home. There are other important factors to take into account also, including the school’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 specializations you are most interested in getting training for, which may be contingent on the amount of time and money that you are willing to invest. The most common dental assistant program normally takes about 1 year 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 finish. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these issues and supplemental questions that you should be asking the programs you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let’s look at the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options provided.
The Duties of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an indispensable part of any Walkersville dental practice and can undertake a myriad of tasks. Their main job description is to provide assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice running successfully. A number of Maryland dental assistants choose to specialize and earn certification in a particular area, for instance periodontics. Even so the majority of assistants perform any job that they are asked to complete, including:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Purchasing office and dental supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so consult with the Maryland dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants working 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 opt to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Duties of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the role of a Walkersville dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the Maryland practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. 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 responsibilities may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying 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 have graduated from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam as well as any state licensing examinations. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist & Assistant Training Options
Dental assistant programs are provided at Maryland community colleges in addition to technical or vocational schools. The most typical credential earned is the certificate, which generally takes about a year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more extensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. As a result of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental practices are normally 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 virtually every state. They are also offered in vocational schools and community colleges. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical aspect to the training as well. Many programs also offer internships with Walkersville area dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Training Programs
Choosing an online dental assistant or hygienist college may be a good alternative for receiving your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the convenience of your Walkersville home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The clinical training can typically be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to get the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you might find that enrolling in an online dental program is the right option for you.
What to Cover With Dental Assistant or Hygienist Programs
After you have picked the dental specialization and kind of credential you want to earn, you can begin the procedure of comparing Walkersville area schools and programs. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students start by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Maybe they search for several online options also. Even though these may be significant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the Maryland schools you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the right dental school for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist or assistant college. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in almost 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 receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Walkersville area employers frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not obtainable for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Available? You can opt to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just verify that the school you select offers the program that you want. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. If you want to earn a living as a hygienist, the majority of Walkersville area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are available. However, keep in mind that even if a school has a good reputation as well as 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 could 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 Enough Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a vital part of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. Many Walkersville area dental programs have relationships with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only important that the college you select provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in an area dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental colleges you are considering have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the best method to get hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Walkersville dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Many graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant schools need assistance landing their first job. Ask if the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental community in addition to large networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Smaller? Check with the Maryland schools you are evaluating how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal environment for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes often are impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can sit in on a few classes at the school that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant schools can differ in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools 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 expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of programs, don’t forget to add all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance offices, so make sure to check out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 21793 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental school, you need to verify that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and need to attend classes near Walkersville in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Select the Best Dental Program near Walkersville MDChoosing the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist course is imperative if you wish to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous options available to obtain your training and it takes a fairly 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 as little as nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require about 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When earning either a degree or a certificate you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of education or credential you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions provided 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 assistant or hygienist.