How to Enroll In a Dental Assistant College in Kansas
Selecting the ideal dental assistant school in Kansas is an essential initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than picking the college with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other important issues to consider as well, such as the school’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the 2 specializations you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may depend on the amount of money and time that you are willing to invest. The most typical dental assistant program usually takes about 1 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. Naturally with the longer training of a dental hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental assistant schools 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 offered.
The Job of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an essential component of any Kansas dental office and can perform a wide range of duties. Their fundamental job description is to provide support to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice operating successfully. Some dental assistants elect to specialize and receive certification in a specific area, such as orthodontics. Even so most assistants perform any task that they are asked to fulfill, for example:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Readying patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Purchasing dental and office supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so check with the Kansas dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines more than likely will have to be licensed and certified. Most dental assistants who are either required or choose to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Function of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the role of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the dental hygienist works more independently. As earlier mentioned, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the Kansas practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s teeth and gums and report their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients regarding oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
In order to be licensed 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 completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant & Hygienist Training Options
Dental assistant programs are provided at Kansas community colleges along with trade or vocational schools. The most frequent credential earned is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about a year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more expansive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. Because of the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental practices are normally 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 Kansas vocational schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical aspect to the training also. Many programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Assistant Classes
Selecting an online dental assistant school may be a viable alternative for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the comfort of your Kansas home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to college, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Many may even have lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The practical training can often be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to get the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of education, you may find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online school is the right option for you.
Topics to Cover With Dental Assistant Colleges
When you have picked the dental specialization and kind of credential you wish to obtain, you can begin the procedure of comparing Kansas programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, a number of potential students start by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they search for several online options as well. Even though these are significant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the programs you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental Assistant College Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental assistant program. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in almost all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the education you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Employers in Kansas frequently prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, often they are not available for non-accredited Kansas programs.
Is The Correct Dental Program Offered? You can choose to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make sure that the Kansas school you decide on offers the program that you want. For the assistant program, the options are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to earn a living as a hygienist, many Kansas dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, keep in mind that just because a college has an excellent reputation and 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 primarily interested in a dental assistant degree, obviously it would not be the ideal school for you.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a necessary portion of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. Many dental schools have partnerships with local dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the college you enroll in offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the Kansas school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental colleges you are exploring have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal means to get hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Kansas dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental assistant programs need help landing their first job. Find out if the schools you are considering 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 Kansas dental community in addition to large networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Small? Ask the Kansas schools you are looking at how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes generally offer a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a couple of classes at the school that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the level of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental assistant programs can differ in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of schools, remember to add all of the costs associated with your education. Most schools have financial aid offices, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in Kansas.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental school, you must make sure that the assistant program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while receiving your education and have to attend classes near your Kansas home at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Ideal Dental Assistant College in Kansas
Enrolling in the ideal dental assistant course is crucial if you intend to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of alternatives offered to receive your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental assistant. You can acquire your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools usually receive a Certificate. Dental Assistants normally require approximately one year of study prior to entering the job market. When earning a certificate or degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training or credential you decide to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental assistant in Kansas.