How to Find the Right Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Westford 01886
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist college near Westford MA is an essential first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than picking the training with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your home. There are other important issues to consider also, such as the program’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specialties you are most interested in getting 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 1 year to finish for a diploma or certificate. However, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these concerns and additional questions that you should be asking the schools you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let’s review the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options available.
The Role of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an essential part of any Westford dental practice and can undertake a wide range of duties. Their principal job description is to give support to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice running efficiently. A number of Massachusetts dental assistants opt to specialize and obtain certification in a particular area, for instance pediatrics. Even so most assistants perform any duty that they are called upon to complete, for example:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- 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
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so consult with the Massachusetts dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines more than likely will have to be certified and licensed. Many dental assistants who are either required or decide to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Duties of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the duties of a Westford dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. As earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the Massachusetts practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient’s gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing patients about oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed in nearly 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 Examination as well as any state licensing examinations. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist & Assistant Education Options
Dental assistant courses are provided at Massachusetts community colleges along with vocational or technical schools. The most frequent credential earned is the certificate, which generally takes about a year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more expansive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. Due to the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices are often required to have 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 vocational 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 as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with Westford area dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Colleges
Selecting an online dental hygienist or assistant program might be a viable alternative for receiving your training. Just remember that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Westford home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to college, online dental classes make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition fees than their traditional counterparts. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The clinical training can typically be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to get the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you may find that attending an online dental school is the best option for you.
Subjects to Cover With Dental Assistant or Hygienist Colleges
Once you have picked the dental specialty and kind of credential you want to obtain, you can start the procedure of comparing Westford area programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many students start by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they search for some online options also. Although these may be important initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the Massachusetts schools you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the ideal dental program for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist or assistant college. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the education you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Westford area employers often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not provided for non-accredited schools.
Is The Proper Dental Program Available? You can choose to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make certain that the school you select has the program that you want. For the assistant program, the options are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. If you want to earn a living as a hygienist, most Westford area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, 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 might have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are just interested in a dental hygiene degree, naturally it would not be the best college for you.
Is Adequate Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an important part of any dental training program. This holds true for the online college options as well. Most Westford 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 adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the college you select offers clinical rotation in a regional dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental schools you are evaluating have internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal way to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a real Westford dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Most graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant colleges require help landing their first job. Ask if the schools you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs 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 internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Find out from the Massachusetts colleges you are evaluating how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more personal setting for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes tend to be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, 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 degree of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene programs can differ in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of colleges, don’t forget to add all of the costs related to your education. Most schools have financial aid offices, so make sure to ask what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 01886 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental college, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while acquiring your education and have to attend classes near Westford in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still have 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 because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Dental School near Westford MAEnrolling in the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist program is crucial if you intend to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several alternatives available to obtain your training 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, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools generally 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 normally require approximately two years of studies before they enter the job market. When pursuing either a certificate or a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of education or credential you elect to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the right choice. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.