How to Enroll In a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Saint Paul 97137
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist program near Saint Paul OR is an essential initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must examine and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than picking the college with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other significant issues to take into account as well, for instance the school’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the 2 specializations you are most interested in getting training for, which may depend on the amount of money and time that you are willing to commit. The most typical dental assistant program usually takes about 12 months to complete for a certificate or diploma. On the other hand, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these factors and supplemental questions that you should be asking the schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s review the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options provided.
The Duties of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an important component of any Saint Paul dental practice and can perform a wide range of functions. Their principal job description is to provide assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice running efficiently. Many Oregon dental assistants opt to specialize and earn certification in a particular area, such as pediatrics. However the majority of assistants carry out any task that they are asked to fulfill, for example:
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Ordering dental and office supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so check with the Oregon dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants handling X-ray machines more than likely will need to be licensed and certified. Most dental assistants who are either required or elect to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Function of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the duties of a Saint Paul dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. As earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and in support of the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the Oregon 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 teeth and gums and report their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients about oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing in almost all states, dental hygienists must graduate from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam in addition to passing any state licensing exams. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant and Hygienist Training Options
Dental assistant courses are offered at Oregon junior colleges along with trade or vocational schools. The most frequent credential acquired is the certificate, which usually takes about a year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more expansive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. As a result of the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are normally required to have 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 nearly every state. They are also offered in trade schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical aspect to the training also. A number of programs also sponsor internships with Saint Paul area dental practices or dentists.
Dental Online Training
Choosing an online dental assistant or hygienist college may be a viable alternative for receiving your training. Just remember that the classes will not be completely 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 convenience of your Saint Paul home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Some may even have lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The clinical training can often be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to obtain the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this style of learning, you may find that attending an online dental program is the right choice for you.
Questions to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Programs
Once you have picked the dental specialty and type of credential you would like to earn, you can begin the procedure of comparing Saint Paul area schools and programs. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of potential students start by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they look for several online options also. Even though these are significant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the Oregon colleges you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the right dental program for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only select an accredited dental assistant or hygienist program. If you are planning 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 program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the training you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Saint Paul area employers often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited schools.
Is The Proper Dental Program Offered? You can decide to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just verify that the school you choose has 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 have a career as a hygienist, a large number of Saint Paul area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are available. However, bear in mind that even if a school has a good reputation and accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a solid accredited dental assistant program, but might have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are primarily interested in a dental hygiene degree, naturally it would not be the right school for you.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an important component of any dental training program. This holds true for the online college options also. Most Saint Paul area dental programs have relationships with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the school you enroll in offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately 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 practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental schools you are considering sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective way to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a professional Saint Paul 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 too.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Most students that have graduated from dental assistant or hygiene colleges need assistance obtaining their first job. Check if the colleges you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental community in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Small? Find out from the Oregon schools you are reviewing how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes generally offer a more personal environment for training where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the college that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant training can fluctuate in cost dependent on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of schools, don’t forget to add all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial assistance offices, so make sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 97137 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental school, you must confirm that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while getting your education and must attend classes near Saint Paul at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, 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 because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Find the Ideal Dental Program near Saint Paul ORChoosing the right dental hygienist or dental assistant course is crucial if you intend to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, 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, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs normally receive either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be practicing in as little as nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require roughly two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When obtaining either a degree or a certificate you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. 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 appropriate selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.