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Top Dental Assistant Programs | How to Become a Dental Assistant near Kenai AK 99611

How to Find the Right Dental Assistant or Hygienist Training Program near Kenai 99611

dental assistant training in Kenai AKChoosing the ideal dental hygienist program near Kenai AK is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than choosing the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your residence. There are other significant factors to take into account as well, such as the program’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specialties you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you have to commit. The most common dental assistant program normally takes about 12 months to complete for a certificate or diploma. On the other hand, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these considerations and additional questions that you should be asking the colleges you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let’s explore the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options provided.

The Job of a Dental Assistant

Kenai dental assistant helping dentist 99611Dental assistants are an essential component of any Kenai dental office and can carry out a wide range of functions. Their principal job description is to furnish assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice working efficiently. A number of Alaska dental assistants opt to specialize and acquire certification in a specific area, for example pediatrics. However the majority of assistants perform any task that they are asked to fulfill, including:

  • Setting and verifying appointments
  • Prepping patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
  • Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
  • Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
  • Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
  • Preparing X-ray machines and processing 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 working with X-ray machines more than likely will need to be certified and licensed. Many dental assistants who are either required or opt to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

The Role of Dental Hygienists

Kenai dental hygienist treating patient in AlaskaWhen comparing the role of a Kenai dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. As previously mentioned, the dental assistant works with and in support of the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the Alaska practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s teeth and gums and report their findings to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities may include:

  • Removing tartar, stains and plaque
  • Applying fluoride treatments
  • Applying sealants and polishing teeth
  • Instructing patients about oral care
  • Taking and developing X-rays
  • Applying fillings and removing sutures

In order to be licensed 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 Exam 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, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Assistant & Hygienist Training Options

Dental assistant courses are provided at Alaska community colleges as well as trade or vocational schools. The most common credential acquired is the certificate, which usually takes about a year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more comprehensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. As a result of the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices are normally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take anywhere from two to as long as three years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually every state. They are also offered in vocational schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are pursuing training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical component to the training also. Many programs also offer internships with Kenai area dentists or dental practices.

Online Dental Training Programs

attending dental assistant school online in Kenai homeEnrolling in an online dental hygienist or assistant school might be a good option for obtaining your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Kenai home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending college, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition costs than their on-campus counterparts. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The clinical training can usually be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to receive the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this style of learning, you might find that attending an dental online school is the right option for you.

Issues to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Schools

Questions to ask Alaska dental colleges 99611When you have decided on the dental specialty and type of credential you wish to earn, you can start the process of comparing Kenai area schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of potential students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Maybe they search for some online alternatives also. Even though these may be significant 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 furnished a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the right dental school for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental assistant or hygienist program. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in virtually all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the training you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Kenai area employers often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not provided for non-accredited programs.

Is The Correct Dental Program Available? You can elect to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make certain that the school you decide on 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, most Kenai area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are available. However, keep in mind that even if a school has an exceptional reputation and accreditation does not mean all 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 just interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the best school for you.

Is Enough Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an essential component of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. Many Kenai area dental colleges have associations with area dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the program you choose offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind 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 college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a regional dental practice that specializes in dental services for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental colleges you are exploring have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal means to get hands-on, clinical experience in a real Kenai dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they look good on resumes as well.

Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Many graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene colleges require assistance landing their first job. Ask if the schools you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental community as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.

Are Classrooms Small? Ask the Alaska schools you are reviewing how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more personal environment for training where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the college that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the amount of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.

 What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene colleges can differ in cost depending 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 have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other substantial costs 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 analyzing the cost of schools, don’t forget to include all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial assistance offices, so be sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 99611 area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental school, you must make sure that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while acquiring your education and must go to classes near Kenai at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family responsibilities.

Choose the Best Dental College near Kenai AK

Enrolling in the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist course is important if you intend to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous alternatives available to obtain your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can obtain your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools typically obtain either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be practicing in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists normally require about 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 credential or mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the best selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.

 

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