How to Find the Right Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Houston 99694
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist school near Houston AK is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must assess and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than choosing the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant factors to take into account as well, for instance the program’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 specialties you are most interested in receiving training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you are willing to invest. The most common dental assistant program generally takes about one year to complete for a certificate or diploma. However, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to finish. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these factors and additional questions that you should be asking the programs you are assessing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options available.
The Duties of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an integral part of any Houston dental office and can perform a wide range of tasks. Their primary job description is to give support to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice operating efficiently. Some Alaska dental assistants opt to specialize and earn certification in a particular area, such as orthodontics. Even so most assistants carry out any job that they are asked to fulfill, such as:
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Readying patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Ordering 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 regulations. Assistants handling X-ray machines most likely will have to be licensed and certified. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or elect to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Job of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the job of a Houston dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant 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 supporting 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 every patient’s gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- 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 have graduated 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 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 Assistant & Hygienist Training Options
Dental assistant programs are offered at Alaska junior colleges as well as technical or vocational schools. The most frequent credential earned is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about 1 year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they provide 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 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 trade schools and community colleges. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical aspect to the training as well. Some programs also offer internships with Houston area dentists or dental practices.
Dental Online Training Programs
Choosing an online dental assistant or hygienist program 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 available by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Houston home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to school, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The practical training can often be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to obtain the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this style of education, you might find that enrolling in an dental online school is the right option for you.
What to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Schools
After you have picked the dental specialization and type of credential you wish to earn, you can begin the process of comparing Houston area schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students start by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they look for several online options also. Although these are significant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should address to the Alaska colleges you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the ideal dental school for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental assistant or hygienist program. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in virtually all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the training you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Houston area employers typically prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, often they are not offered 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 decide on has the program that you want. For the assistant program, the choices are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. If you want to earn a living as a hygienist, most Houston 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 college has an exceptional reputation and accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a strong accredited dental assistant program, but could have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are only interested in a dental hygiene degree, naturally it would not be the best college for you.
Is Enough Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an important portion of any dental training program. This holds true for the online college options as well. Most Houston area dental schools have relationships with local dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only important that the school you choose provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the college you select offers clinical rotation in a local dental office that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental schools you are exploring have internship programs. Internships are probably the best means to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a real Houston dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental hygiene or assistant schools require assistance obtaining their first job. Find out if the colleges you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Smaller? Ask the Alaska schools you are interested in how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, larger classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can monitor a few classes at the college that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant colleges can differ in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other significant costs 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 comparing the cost of colleges, don’t forget to include all of the expenses associated with your education. Most colleges have financial assistance departments, so make sure to check out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 99694 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental school, you need to verify that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while acquiring your education and need to attend classes near Houston in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Find the Ideal Dental Program near Houston AKChoosing the right dental hygienist or dental assistant course is crucial if you want to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several alternatives offered to acquire your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs normally receive either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be working in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require roughly two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When pursuing either a degree or a certificate you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of education or credential you decide to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the right selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.