How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Training Program near Homer 99603
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist college near Homer AK is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than picking the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other crucial factors to take into account also, including the school’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the 2 specialties you are most interested in receiving 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 12 months to finish for a diploma or certificate. Meanwhile, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these issues and additional questions that you should be asking the schools you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let’s explore the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options offered.
The Duties of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an essential part of any Homer dental practice and can perform a multitude of duties. Their main job description is to give assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice operating successfully. A number of Alaska dental assistants choose to specialize and receive certification in a particular area, such as periodontics. Even so most assistants carry out any task that they are asked to complete, such as:
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Readying patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Providing 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 differ by state, so consult with the Alaska dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants working with 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 Role of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the role of a Homer dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. As earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and in support of the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the Alaska practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients about oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- 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 licensure exams. 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 & Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant courses are offered at Alaska junior colleges in addition to vocational or technical schools. The most typical credential attained is the certificate, which generally takes about a year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more expansive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. Because of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are often 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 pursuing training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical component to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with Homer area dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Classes
Enrolling in an online dental assistant or hygienist program may be a viable alternative for receiving your education. Just remember that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Homer home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental classes make education much more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And supplementary expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The practical training can often be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you may find that enrolling in an dental online program is the best option for you.
What to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Colleges
After you have selected the dental specialization and type of credential you would like to attain, you can begin the process of comparing Homer area schools and programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they search for several online alternatives also. Although these are significant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the Alaska 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 due diligence and final selection of the best dental program for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist or assistant program. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in virtually 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 establish that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Homer area employers frequently prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, often they are not available for non-accredited programs.
Is The Proper Dental Program Available? You can elect to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make certain that the school you select offers the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. In order to earn a living as a hygienist, the majority of Homer area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are available. However, keep in mind that even if a school has a good 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 primarily interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the right school for you.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an essential component of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. Most Homer area dental schools have partnerships with regional dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only important that the college you select offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in an area dental office that specializes in dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental schools you are looking at sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the best way to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Homer dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental hygiene or assistant programs require help getting their first job. Check if the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high 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? Check with the Alaska schools you are reviewing how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal setting for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, larger classes often are impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a few classes at the college that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene programs can differ in cost based on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, such as 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 costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of schools, don’t forget to include all of the costs associated with your education. Most colleges have financial assistance departments, so be sure to check out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 99603 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental college, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while getting your education and must attend classes near Homer at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family issues.
Pick the Right Dental Program near Homer AKChoosing the right dental assistant or dental hygienist program is important if you want to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of options available to obtain your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can receive your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs normally earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be working in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists typically require approximately two years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing either a degree or a certificate you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training or credential you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the best selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.