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Find Dental Assistant Colleges | How to Become a Dental Hygienist near Palmer AK 99645

How to Enroll In a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Training Program near Palmer 99645

dental assistant training in Palmer AKChoosing the ideal dental assistant college near Palmer AK is an essential first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must examine and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than picking the college with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other crucial factors to take into account also, including the school’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in getting training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you are willing to commit. The most common dental assistant program usually takes about 12 months to finish for a certificate or diploma. However, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these factors and additional questions that you need to be asking the colleges you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s look at the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options provided.

The Duties of a Dental Assistant

Palmer dental assistant helping dentist 99645Dental assistants are an indispensable part of any Palmer dental practice and can perform a myriad of tasks. Their principal job description is to give support to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice running successfully. Many Alaska dental assistants choose to specialize and obtain certification in a particular area, for example pediatrics. Even so most assistants perform any task that they are called upon to complete, for example:

  • Setting and verifying appointments
  • Prepping patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
  • Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
  • Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
  • Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
  • Prepping X-ray machines and processing X-rays
  • Ordering dental and office supplies

Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so consult with the Alaska dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants handling X-ray machines most likely will need to be licensed and certified. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or opt to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

The Job of Dental Hygienists

Palmer dental hygienist treating patient in AlaskaWhen comparing the job of a Palmer dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. As earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the Alaska practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient’s teeth and gums and present their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:

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

In order to be licensed in nearly 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 Examination as well as any state licensing exams. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Assistant & Hygienist Training Options

Dental assistant programs are provided at Alaska junior colleges as well as trade or vocational schools. The most common credential attained is the certificate, which usually takes about a year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more expansive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. Due to the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices are often 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 clinical component to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with Palmer area dentists or dental practices.

Dental Online Programs

attending dental assistant school online in Palmer homeEnrolling in an online dental assistant or hygienist school can be a viable alternative for receiving your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Palmer home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental classes make education much more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The clinical training can usually be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to get the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you might find that attending an online dental program is the right option for you.

Points to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Programs

Questions to ask Alaska dental colleges 99645After you have decided on the dental specialization and kind of credential you want to earn, you can start the procedure of comparing Palmer area schools and programs. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of students start by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they search for some online alternatives also. Although these may be relevant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the Alaska programs you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the best dental school for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental assistant or hygienist program. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in almost 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 education you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Palmer area employers typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not available for non-accredited colleges.

Is The Appropriate Dental Program Offered? You can opt to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just verify that the school you decide on offers the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to work as a hygienist, many Palmer area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, bear in mind that even if a school has an exceptional reputation as well as accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college may have a solid accredited dental assistant program, but might 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 best college for you.

Is Plenty of Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an important part of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. Most Palmer area dental colleges have associations with local dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the college you enroll in provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the program you select offers clinical rotation in a regional dental office that specializes in dental services for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental schools you are considering have an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal way to get hands-on, practical experience in a real Palmer dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.

Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental hygiene or assistant programs require help obtaining their first job. Check if the colleges you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.

Are the Classrooms Smaller? Ask the Alaska colleges you are evaluating how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate atmosphere for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can monitor a few classes at the college that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.

 What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene training can differ in cost dependent on the duration 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 come into play. But in addition to 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 schools, remember to add all of the costs related to your education. Most schools have financial assistance offices, so make sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 99645 area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental school, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while getting your education and must attend classes near Palmer 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 practice is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family responsibilities.

Enroll in the Best Dental School near Palmer AK

Picking the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant course is important if you intend to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are many options available to acquire your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can receive your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs normally receive either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be working in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require roughly two years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing either a degree or a certificate you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of education or credential you elect 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.

 

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