How to Find the Right Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Anchorage 99501
Selecting the ideal dental assistant training near Anchorage AK is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than choosing the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant issues to take into account also, including the program’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 be contingent on the amount of time and money that you are willing to commit. The most common dental assistant program normally takes about 12 months to finish for a certificate or diploma. However, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to finish. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these factors and additional questions that you should be asking the colleges you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options available.
The Role of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an integral part of any Anchorage dental practice and can perform a multitude of duties. Their fundamental job description is to furnish assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice running successfully. Some Alaska dental assistants elect to specialize and earn certification in a specific area, such as periodontics. However most assistants perform any duty that they are asked to complete, for example:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Readying 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 handling X-rays
- Ordering dental and office supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so check with the Alaska dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants handling X-ray machines most likely will have to be certified and licensed. Many dental assistants who are either required or choose to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Role of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the duties of a Anchorage dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As earlier mentioned, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the Alaska practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients about oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing in nearly 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 Examination as well as any state licensure examinations. When 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 Assistant and Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant programs are offered at Alaska junior colleges along with vocational or technical schools. The most frequent credential acquired is the certificate, which generally takes about a year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more expansive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. Due to the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are usually required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require anywhere from two to as long as three 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 interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical component to the training also. Some programs also sponsor internships with Anchorage area dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Programs
Choosing an online dental assistant or hygienist program can be a viable option for receiving your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Anchorage home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to college, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. 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 reduced also. The practical training can typically be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this style of education, you may find that attending an dental online school is the right choice for you.
What to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Colleges
After you have picked the dental specialty and type of credential you want to attain, you can start the process of comparing Anchorage area programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of potential students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Perhaps they search for some online alternatives as well. Even though these are important initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the Alaska schools you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the best dental program for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only select an accredited dental assistant or hygienist school. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite 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 guarantee that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Anchorage area employers frequently 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 colleges.
Is The Proper Dental Program Available? You can choose to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just verify that the school you select offers the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the choices are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. In order to earn a living as a hygienist, the majority of Anchorage area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, bear in mind that even if a school 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 primarily interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the right school for you.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an important portion of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. A number of Anchorage area dental schools have relationships with regional dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the college you select provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in an area dental office that specializes in dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental programs you are exploring have internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective way to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Anchorage dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Most students that have graduated from dental assistant or hygiene schools need help getting their first job. Check if the colleges you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental profession in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Smaller? Ask the Alaska colleges you are interested in how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more intimate atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes often are impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can attend a couple of classes at the school that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene colleges can fluctuate in cost depending on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also have an impact. But in addition to 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 equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of colleges, don’t forget to add all of the expenses related to your education. Most schools have financial assistance departments, so be sure to check out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 99501 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental college, you need to verify that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while receiving your education and need to attend classes near Anchorage in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still be required to schedule your practical 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.
Choose the Ideal Dental College near Anchorage AKSelecting the right dental assistant or dental hygienist program is imperative if you wish to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of alternatives available to acquire 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 community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools generally earn either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be practicing in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists normally require approximately 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When obtaining either a certificate or a degree you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of education or credential you elect to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal choice. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.