How to Find the Right Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near West Point 39773
Choosing the right dental assistant school near West Point MS is an important initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than picking the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant factors to take into account also, for instance the school’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in receiving training for, which may depend on the amount of money and time that you are willing to commit. The most typical dental assistant program generally takes about 1 year to finish for a diploma or certificate. Meanwhile, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to complete. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these considerations and additional questions that you need to be asking the schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s explore the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options available.
The Duties of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an essential part of any West Point dental practice and can undertake a variety of duties. Their primary job description is to provide support to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice running successfully. Some Mississippi dental assistants choose to specialize and acquire certification in a particular area, for example orthodontics. Even so the majority of assistants perform any duty that they are asked to fulfill, including:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Readying patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Ordering dental and office supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so check with the Mississippi dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines more than likely will have to be licensed and certified. Most dental assistants who are either required or decide to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Job of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the role of a West Point dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As earlier mentioned, the dental assistant works with and in support of the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the Mississippi practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing patients regarding oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed in almost 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 Exam as well as any state licensure examinations. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant and Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant programs are offered at Mississippi community colleges in addition to technical or vocational schools. The most typical credential attained is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about a year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more extensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. Because of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices 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 virtually 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. Some programs also offer internships with West Point area dentists or dental practices.
Dental Online Classes
Choosing an online dental assistant or hygienist program may be a great alternative for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the comfort of your West Point home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Many may even charge lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The practical training can usually be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to obtain the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this mode of education, you might find that enrolling in an dental online program is the best option for you.
Subjects to Cover With Dental Assistant or Hygienist Schools
After you have picked the dental specialization and type of credential you wish to attain, you can begin the procedure of comparing West Point area programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of potential students start by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they search for several online options as well. Even though these are important initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the Mississippi colleges you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the best dental school for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist or assistant program. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the education you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. West Point area employers often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not obtainable for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Right Dental Program Available? You can decide to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just confirm that the school you choose offers 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 work as a hygienist, many West Point area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are available. However, bear in mind that even if a school has an exceptional reputation as well as 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 only interested in a dental hygiene degree, naturally it would not be the ideal school for you.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a vital portion of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. Most West Point area dental schools have partnerships with area dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the program you enroll in provides sufficient 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, confirm that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental programs you are exploring have internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective way to obtain hands-on, clinical 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 build working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental assistant or hygiene programs require assistance obtaining their first job. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental profession in addition to large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Small? Find out from the Mississippi schools you are reviewing how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more intimate atmosphere for training where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, larger classes can be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a few classes at the school that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the amount of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene programs can vary in cost depending on the length 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 have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of programs, remember to add all of the costs related to your education. The majority of schools have financial aid offices, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 39773 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental college, you need to verify that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and must attend classes near West Point at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Dental Program near West Point MSPicking the right dental assistant or dental hygienist course is crucial if you want to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of options offered to acquire your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs 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 generally require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning either a certificate or a degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever credential or mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the best selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.