How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Nikiski 99635
Picking the right dental hygienist program near Nikiski AK is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than selecting the college with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your residence. There are other important factors to consider also, such as the school’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 have to invest. The most common dental assistant program normally takes about 12 months to finish for a diploma or certificate. On the other hand, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to complete. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these issues and additional questions that you should be asking the colleges you are assessing later in this article. But first, let’s look at the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options provided.
The Function of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an important part of any Nikiski dental office and can perform a variety of duties. Their principal job description is to give assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice operating successfully. Many Alaska dental assistants choose to specialize and receive certification in a particular area, such as periodontics. Even so the majority of assistants carry out any task that they are called upon to complete, including:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Readying patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Ordering dental and office supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants deviate 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 certified and licensed. Many dental assistants who are either required or choose to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Job of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the duties of a Nikiski dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. As previously mentioned, the dental assistant works with and in support of the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the Alaska practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine each 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
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing in nearly 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 licensing examinations. After they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist and Assistant Education Options
Dental assistant courses are provided at Alaska community colleges as well as technical or vocational schools. The most typical credential attained is the certificate, which usually takes about a 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 assisting classes. As a result of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are normally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require anywhere from two to as long as three years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually every state. They are also offered in trade schools and community colleges. Whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical aspect to the training also. A number of programs also offer internships with Nikiski area dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Schools
Choosing an online dental assistant or hygienist school might be a good alternative for obtaining your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the convenience of your Nikiski home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to school, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition fees than their traditional counterparts. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The clinical training can typically be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to obtain the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of education, you might find that enrolling in an online dental school is the best choice for you.
Issues to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Programs
Once you have picked the dental specialization and type of credential you wish to obtain, you can begin the process of comparing Nikiski area schools and programs. As we covered at the opening of this article, many potential students start by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Maybe they search for some online alternatives as well. Even though these are significant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should address to the Alaska colleges you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the right dental school for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several good 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 requirement in nearly 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 training you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Nikiski area employers typically prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not obtainable for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Proper Dental Program Offered? You can elect to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just confirm that the school you choose has the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the choices are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to have a career as a hygienist, the majority of Nikiski area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are offered. However, bear in mind that just because 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 solid accredited dental assistant program, but may have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are just interested in a dental hygiene degree, naturally it would not be the ideal college for you.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an important component of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. Most Nikiski area dental schools have relationships with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the school you choose offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental programs you are exploring sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective method to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Nikiski 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 also.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Most graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene programs need assistance obtaining their first job. Find out if the programs you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental profession as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Small? Ask the Alaska schools you are evaluating how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate environment for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, bigger classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the college that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant programs can fluctuate in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, don’t forget to add all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance departments, so make sure to check out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 99635 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental college, you must verify that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while receiving your education and must attend classes near Nikiski in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family issues.
Select the Ideal Dental School near Nikiski AKChoosing the right dental hygienist or dental assistant program is important if you wish to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several alternatives offered to receive your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can acquire your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs generally receive either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be practicing in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When earning either a certificate or a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever credential or mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.