How to Pick a Dental Assistant Training Program in Indiana
Choosing the right dental assistant program in Indiana is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than selecting the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other crucial issues to consider also, for instance the school’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specialties you are most interested in receiving training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you are willing to invest. The most typical dental assistant program generally takes about one year to complete for a certificate or diploma. On the other hand dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Naturally with the longer training of a dental hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these considerations and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental assistant schools you are assessing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options offered.
The Function of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an integral component of any Indiana dental practice and can undertake a multitude of functions. Their fundamental job description is to furnish assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice working efficiently. A number of dental assistants choose to specialize and acquire certification in a particular area, for example periodontics. Even so most assistants perform any job that they are asked to complete, for example:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying 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 Indiana dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants working with X-ray machines most likely will need to be licensed and certified. Many dental assistants who are either required or decide to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Job of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the job of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is probably that the dental hygienist works more independently. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the Indiana practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient’s gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing patients about oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
To qualify for licensing in almost all states, dental hygienists must have graduated from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam as well as any state licensure examinations. Once they have completed these requirements they are regarded as 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 Indiana community colleges as well as technical or vocational schools. The most typical credential acquired is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about one year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more expansive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. Due to the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are often 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 virtually every state. They are also offered in Indiana community colleges and technical schools. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical aspect to the training as well. Many programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Assistant Training
Enrolling in an online dental assistant college may be a viable option for receiving your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Indiana home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending school, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Some may even charge lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The practical training can usually be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to get the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you may find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online school is the best option for you.
Issues to Ask Dental Assistant Schools
After you have picked the dental specialty and type of credential you want to attain, you can begin the process of comparing Indiana schools and programs. As we covered at the start of this article, a number of prospective students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they look for some online alternatives as well. Even though these are significant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the colleges you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental Assistant College Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only select an accredited dental assistant program. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite 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 instruction you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Employers in Indiana typically desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not obtainable for non-accredited Indiana programs.
Is The Proper Dental Program Available? You can choose to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just verify that the Indiana college you choose has 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 work as a hygienist, most Indiana dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are offered. However, keep in mind that even if a college 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 hygienist program, but could have a weaker or non-accredited assistant program. So if you are solely interested in a dental assistant degree, naturally it would not be the right college for you.
Is Plenty of Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a vital part of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. Many dental programs have relationships with local dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the college you enroll in offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the Indiana college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a regional dental practice that focuses on dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental schools you are considering sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal way to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Indiana dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental assistant schools require help landing their first job. Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Indiana dental profession in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Small? Ask the Indiana programs you are reviewing how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more intimate atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes can be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the school that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental assistant colleges can differ in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of schools, don’t forget to add all of the costs associated with your education. Most schools have financial aid offices, so be sure to check out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in Indiana.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental school, you need to make sure that the assistant program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while receiving your education and have to attend classes near your Indiana home in the evenings 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 procedure is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Pick the Ideal Dental Assistant School in Indiana
Choosing the right dental assistant course is important 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 alternatives offered to receive your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental assistant. You can obtain your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools typically receive a Certificate. Dental Assistants usually require roughly 1 year of study before they enter the job market. When pursuing a certificate or degree you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of education or credential you decide to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the best selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental assistant in Indiana.