How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Big Lake 99652
Choosing the right dental assistant college near Big Lake AK is an essential initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than selecting the program with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your residence. There are other significant factors to consider also, such as the school’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in getting training for, which may be contingent on the amount of time and money that you have to commit. The most common dental assistant program generally takes about 1 year to complete for a diploma or certificate. On the other hand, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to finish. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these considerations and additional questions that you need to 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 provided.
The Duties of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an indispensable component of any Big Lake dental office and can perform a wide range of tasks. Their main job description is to provide support to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice working successfully. Some Alaska dental assistants elect to specialize and receive certification in a specific area, for instance pediatrics. However most assistants perform any job that they are asked to fulfill, such as:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Purchasing office and dental supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so consult with the Alaska dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines more than likely will need 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 contrasting the role of a Big Lake dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is undoubtedly 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 assisting the Alaska practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine each 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 responsibilities can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering 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 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 Examination in addition to passing any state licensure exams. Once they have completed these requirements they are considered 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 Alaska community colleges along with trade or vocational schools. The most frequent credential earned is the certificate, which generally takes about a year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more extensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. As a result of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are often required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take anywhere from two to as long as three years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in almost every state. They are also offered in community colleges and technical schools. Regardless of whether you are pursuing training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical component to the training as well. Many programs also sponsor internships with Big Lake area dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Programs
Choosing an online dental hygienist or assistant school may be a great option for obtaining your training. Just remember that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Big Lake home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental classes make education far more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition rates than their traditional competitors. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The practical training can often be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to obtain the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you might find that attending an online dental program is the ideal choice for you.
Issues to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Colleges
After you have decided on the dental specialty and type of credential you want to obtain, you can begin the process of comparing Big Lake area programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they search for some online options also. Even though these are significant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the Alaska schools you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the best dental school for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental assistant or hygienist school. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in almost all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the education you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Big Lake area employers often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited programs.
Is The Right Dental Program Offered? You can decide to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just verify that the school you select offers the program that you want. For the assistant program, the choices are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to earn a living as a hygienist, many Big Lake area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, bear in mind that just because a college has an excellent reputation and accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college may have a strong accredited dental assistant program, but may have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are solely interested in a dental hygiene degree, naturally it would not be the right school for you.
Is Adequate Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a vital part of every dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. Many Big Lake area dental colleges have relationships with regional dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the program you choose offers sufficient 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 care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental colleges you are evaluating sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the best way to get hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Big Lake 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 Assistance Provided? Many graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant schools need help getting their first job. Find out if the colleges you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs 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 the Classes Smaller? Find out from the Alaska programs you are reviewing how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate setting for training where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes can be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a few classes at the college that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant schools can fluctuate in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of programs, remember to add all of the expenses associated with your education. Most schools have financial aid departments, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 99652 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental college, you must make sure that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while receiving your education and need to attend classes near Big Lake in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still need 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 due to work, illness or family issues.
Pick the Right Dental School near Big Lake AKEnrolling in the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant program is imperative if you intend to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are many options offered to acquire your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs typically receive either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be working in as little as nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When pursuing either a degree or a certificate you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever credential or mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.