How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near North Little Rock 72114
Picking the ideal dental hygienist college near North Little Rock AK is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than selecting the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other crucial factors to consider as well, for instance the college’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 invest. The most common dental assistant program normally takes about 1 year to finish for a diploma or certificate. On the other hand, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to finish. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these issues and additional questions that you should be asking the programs you are assessing later in this article. But first, let’s review the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options offered.
The Job of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an essential component of any North Little Rock dental practice and can carry out a myriad of functions. Their main job description is to give support to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice working efficiently. Many Alaska dental assistants choose to specialize and earn certification in a particular area, for instance periodontics. Even so the majority of assistants carry out any job that they are called upon to fulfill, such as:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Preparing 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 handling X-rays
- Purchasing office and dental supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so check with the Alaska dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants handling X-ray machines most likely will have to be certified and licensed. Most dental assistants who are either required or decide to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Duties of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the duties of a North Little Rock dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As earlier mentioned, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the Alaska practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s teeth and gums and present their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
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 Exam as well as any state licensing exams. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant & Hygienist Training Options
Dental assistant programs are available at Alaska community colleges along with vocational or technical schools. The most common credential attained is the certificate, which usually takes about one year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more extensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. As a result of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are usually required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually every state. They are also offered in trade schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are pursuing training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical component to the training also. Some programs also sponsor internships with North Little Rock area dentists or dental practices.
Dental Online Colleges
Choosing an online dental assistant or hygienist program may be a good alternative for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the convenience of your North Little Rock home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending college, online dental programs make education much more accessible. Many may even have lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The clinical training can typically be completed 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 education, you may find that enrolling in an online dental school is the right option for you.
What to Cover With Dental Assistant or Hygienist Schools
After you have decided on the dental specialization and type of credential you wish to obtain, you can begin the process of comparing North Little Rock area schools and programs. As we covered at the opening of this article, many prospective students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they look for some online options also. Although these may be relevant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you should address to the Alaska colleges you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental college for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist or assistant school. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost 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 guarantee that the instruction you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. North Little Rock area employers often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, often they are not provided for non-accredited programs.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Available? You can opt to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make certain that the school you choose offers 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 work as a hygienist, most North Little Rock area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are offered. However, keep in mind that just because a school has an excellent reputation and accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college may have a strong accredited dental assistant program, but could have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are solely interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the ideal school for you.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a necessary portion of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. Most North Little Rock area dental schools have partnerships with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the program you choose offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a regional dental office that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental schools you are exploring have an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective method to receive hands-on, practical experience in a real North Little Rock dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Many graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant programs need help getting their first job. Find out if the schools you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental profession in addition to large networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Smaller? Check with the Alaska schools you are looking at how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal setting for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, bigger classes can be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a few classes at the college that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant programs can vary in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also come into play. But along with 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 equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of schools, remember to add all of the expenses related to your education. Most schools have financial assistance offices, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 72114 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental college, you need to confirm that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and have to go to classes near North Little Rock at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Select the Right Dental College near North Little Rock AKSelecting the right dental hygienist or dental assistant course is imperative if you intend to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several alternatives available to obtain your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools usually earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be working in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists typically require approximately 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When obtaining either a certificate or a degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of education or credential you elect to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the right selection. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.