How to Choose a Dental Assistant School in Delaware
Selecting the right dental assistant school in Delaware is an essential first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than picking the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your home. There are other crucial issues to consider also, such as the college’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specialties you are most interested in getting training for, which may depend on the amount of money and time that you have to commit. The most common dental assistant program usually takes about one year to finish for a certificate or diploma. Meanwhile dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Obviously with the longer training of a dental hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these issues and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental assistant schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s look at the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options available.
The Role of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an indispensable part of any Delaware dental practice and can perform a myriad of duties. Their primary job description is to furnish support to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice operating successfully. Many dental assistants opt to specialize and acquire certification in a particular area, such as orthodontics. However the majority of assistants perform any duty that they are asked to complete, for example:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Ordering dental and office supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so consult with the Delaware dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines most likely will have to be licensed and certified. Many dental assistants who are either required or elect to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Role of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the job of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is probably that the dental hygienist works more independently. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and in support of the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the Delaware practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
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 in addition to passing 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 Assistant and Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant programs are offered at Delaware junior colleges along with trade or vocational schools. The most common credential earned is the certificate, which generally takes about 1 year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more extensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. Due to the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental practices are often required to have 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 nearly every state. They are also offered in Delaware trade schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a clinical component to the training also. A number of programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Assistant Online Programs
Enrolling in an online dental assistant college might be a great alternative for receiving your education. Just remember that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Delaware home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental classes make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even charge lower tuition costs than their traditional counterparts. And supplementary expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The clinical training can often be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to receive the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist college is the best choice for you.
Issues to Cover With Dental Assistant Colleges
After you have decided on the dental specialization and type of credential you wish to earn, you can start the procedure of comparing Delaware programs and schools. As we covered at the start of this article, many prospective students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they look for several online options also. Even though these may be important initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the programs you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental Assistant Program Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental assistant school. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the instruction you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Employers in Delaware often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, often they are not provided for non-accredited Delaware colleges.
Is The Proper Dental Program Available? You can opt to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just confirm that the Delaware school you choose offers 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 earn a living as a hygienist, a large number of Delaware dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not prevalent, are offered. However, keep in mind that even if a college has an excellent reputation as well as accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a solid accredited dental hygienist program, but might have a weaker or non-accredited assistant program. So if you are just interested in a dental assistant degree, naturally it would not be the right school for you.
Is Adequate Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a necessary component of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. A number of dental programs have partnerships with local dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the college you choose provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the Delaware college you choose 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 looking at have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the best means to get hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Delaware dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental assistant colleges require assistance landing their first job. Ask if the schools you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Delaware dental profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Find out from the Delaware programs you are looking at how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal setting for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can sit in on a few classes at the school that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental assistant schools can vary in cost dependent on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other significant expenses 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 schools, remember to include all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial aid offices, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in Delaware.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental school, you need to verify that the assistant program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while getting your education and must go to classes near your Delaware home at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Dental Assistant Program in Delaware
Picking the ideal dental assistant course is crucial if you wish to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous alternatives available to acquire your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental assistant. You can obtain your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools generally obtain a Certificate. Dental Assistants normally require approximately 1 year of study before they enter the work force. When earning a certificate or degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of education or credential you choose to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental assistant in Delaware.