How to Enroll In a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Training Program near West Point 62380
Selecting the right dental hygienist college near West Point IL is an important initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than selecting the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other crucial factors to consider as well, including the program’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial 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 commit. The most common dental assistant program generally 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. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these factors and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the colleges 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
Dental assistants are an essential part of any West Point dental office and can undertake a multitude of tasks. Their primary job description is to give assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice working efficiently. Many Illinois dental assistants choose to specialize and receive certification in a specific area, such as pediatrics. Even so the majority of assistants perform any duty that they are asked to fulfill, for example:
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Purchasing office and dental supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so check with the Illinois dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants handling X-ray machines more than likely will have to be licensed and certified. A large number of 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 a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the duties of a West Point dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As previously mentioned, the dental assistant works with and in support of the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the Illinois practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. 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 may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- 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 also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination in addition to passing any state licensure exams. After 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 Hygienist and Assistant Education Options
Dental assistant courses are provided at Illinois community colleges as well as trade or vocational schools. The most frequent credential acquired is the certificate, which generally takes about one year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more comprehensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. As a result of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices are usually required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly every state. They are also offered in trade schools and community colleges. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical component to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with West Point area dental practices or dentists.
Dental Online Schools
Enrolling in an online dental assistant or hygienist college might be a good alternative for receiving your education. Just remember that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the comfort of your West Point home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The clinical training can typically be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to obtain the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of education, you may find that enrolling in an dental online program is the right option for you.
Questions to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Colleges
Once you have decided on the dental specialty and kind of credential you want to obtain, you can start the process of comparing West Point area schools and programs. As we discussed at the start of this article, a number of potential students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they look for some online options also. Even though these are significant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the Illinois colleges you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, 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 School Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist or assistant school. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly 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 training you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. West Point area employers often desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, often they are not available for non-accredited programs.
Is The Proper Dental Program Offered? You can decide to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make sure that the school you choose offers the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the choices are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. If you want to earn a living as a hygienist, the majority of West Point area dental offices 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 a good reputation and accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college may have a solid accredited dental assistant program, but might have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are solely interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the best school for you.
Is Enough Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an important component of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. Many West Point area dental schools have relationships with area dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the college you select offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a regional dental practice that focuses on dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental colleges you are considering have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal means to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a professional West Point dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Most graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant schools require assistance landing their first job. Ask if the schools you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high 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 internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Ask the Illinois schools you are looking at how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal setting for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, large classes often are impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a couple of classes at the school that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the level of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene schools can differ in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial 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, remember to include all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance departments, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 62380 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental school, you must make sure that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while getting your education and have to go to classes near West Point at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Find the Best Dental School near West Point ILSelecting the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist program is essential if you want to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several options offered to obtain your education and it takes a fairly short amount 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 normally obtain either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be working in just nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists normally require roughly two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When pursuing either a degree or a certificate you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of education or credential you choose to pursue, by asking 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 start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.