How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Pelican 99832
Picking the ideal dental hygienist college near Pelican AK is an essential first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must assess and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than selecting the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other significant issues to consider as well, for instance the school’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in getting training for, which may depend on the amount of time and money that you have to invest. The most common dental assistant program normally takes about 1 year to complete for a diploma or certificate. However, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you should be asking the schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s look at the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options offered.
The Duties of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an essential component of any Pelican dental practice and can undertake a variety of duties. Their primary job description is to give assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice working successfully. Some Alaska dental assistants opt to specialize and earn certification in a specific area, such as pediatrics. Even so most assistants carry out any duty that they are asked to complete, for example:
- 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 handling X-rays
- Purchasing office and dental supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so check with the Alaska dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants working with 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 Function of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the duties of a Pelican dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the Alaska practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients regarding oral care
- 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 must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination as well as any state licensure examinations. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist & Assistant Training Options
Dental assistant programs are provided at Alaska community colleges as well as trade or vocational schools. The most frequent credential acquired is the certificate, which usually takes about a year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more expansive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. As a result of the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices are generally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in almost every state. They are also offered in community colleges and technical schools. Whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical aspect to the training also. Many programs also offer internships with Pelican area dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Classes
Selecting 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 totally online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Pelican home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental classes make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The clinical training can usually be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to obtain the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this style of education, you might find that attending an dental online program is the ideal choice for you.
Subjects to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Programs
When you have selected the dental specialization and type of credential you wish to earn, you can start the process of comparing Pelican area programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they search for some online options also. Even though these may be relevant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the Alaska programs you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the best dental school for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only select an accredited dental assistant or hygienist school. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in almost all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the education you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Pelican area employers often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited programs.
Is The Correct Dental Program Offered? You can opt to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make sure that the school you select offers the program that you want. For the assistant program, the choices are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to earn a living as a hygienist, many Pelican area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are offered. However, bear in mind that even if a college has a good reputation as well as accreditation does not mean all 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 solely interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the ideal school for you.
Is Enough Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an important component of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options also. Most Pelican area dental programs have relationships with local dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the program you select provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental schools you are considering sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective method to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a real Pelican dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Most students that have graduated from dental assistant or hygiene programs need help obtaining their first job. Ask if the colleges you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental community as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Small? Find out from the Alaska colleges you are interested in how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more intimate setting for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, larger classes often are impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a couple of classes at the school that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant colleges can fluctuate in cost depending on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, remember to add all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance offices, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 99832 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental school, you need to verify that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while receiving your education and must attend classes near Pelican at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still be required 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 because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Pick the Right Dental College near Pelican AKChoosing the right dental hygienist or dental assistant program is imperative if you intend to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of options available to obtain your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can obtain your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs typically receive either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be practicing in just nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists typically require about two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When obtaining either a degree or a certificate you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of education or credential you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the best choice. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.