How to Enroll In a Dental Assistant School in North Dakota
Choosing the ideal dental assistant program in North Dakota is an important initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than selecting the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your residence. There are other important issues to take into account as well, for instance the college’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 specializations you are most interested in receiving training for, which may be contingent on the amount of time and money that you are willing to commit. The most typical dental assistant program usually takes about 1 year to complete 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 more extensive training of a dental hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss 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 review the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options available.
The Job of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an essential component of any North Dakota dental practice and can undertake a wide range of tasks. Their primary job description is to provide assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice running efficiently. Many dental assistants opt to specialize and earn certification in a specific area, such as orthodontics. However most assistants carry out any duty that they are called upon to complete, including:
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Preparing 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 office and dental supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so check with the North Dakota dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants handling X-ray machines more than likely will have to be licensed and certified. Many dental assistants who are either required or choose to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Role of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the job of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is undoubtedly that the dental hygienist works more independently. As previously mentioned, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the North Dakota practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient’s teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating 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 in addition to passing any state licensing exams. When 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 Assistant and Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant programs are available at North Dakota community colleges in addition to trade or vocational schools. The most common credential earned is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about 1 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 assistant courses. As a result of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are normally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require anywhere from two to as long as three years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually every state. They are also offered in North Dakota vocational schools and community colleges. 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. Some programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Assistant Colleges
Selecting an online dental assistant school can be a viable option for obtaining your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your North Dakota home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental classes make education much more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition costs than their on-campus counterparts. And supplementary expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. 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 receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you might find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online program is the ideal option for you.
Subjects to Cover With Dental Assistant Schools
Once you have selected the dental specialization and kind of credential you wish to attain, you can begin the procedure of comparing North Dakota schools and programs. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many prospective students start by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they look for some online options also. Even though these may be important initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the colleges you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental assistant program. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in almost all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the education you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Employers in North Dakota typically prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not obtainable for non-accredited North Dakota colleges.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Offered? You can choose to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just verify that the North Dakota college you choose offers the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the options are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. If you want to earn a living as a hygienist, the majority of North Dakota dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are offered. However, bear in mind that even if a college has an exceptional reputation and accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college may have a strong 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, obviously it would not be the right school for you.
Is Enough Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a vital part of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. A number of dental colleges have associations with area dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the college you select offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the North Dakota college you select offers clinical rotation in an area dental office that specializes in dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental colleges you are looking at have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective way to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a professional North Dakota dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Many graduating students of dental assistant colleges need assistance obtaining their first job. Check if the schools you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the North Dakota dental profession in addition to large networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Small? Ask the North Dakota colleges you are interested in how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate environment for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a few classes at the school that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental assistant colleges can fluctuate in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of colleges, don’t forget to include all of the costs related to your education. Most colleges have financial assistance offices, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in North Dakota.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental school, you must verify that the assistant program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while getting your education and have to attend classes near your North Dakota home in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still be required 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 illness, work or family issues.
Find the Ideal Dental Assistant College in North Dakota
Picking the right dental assistant program is crucial if you intend to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous alternatives offered to receive your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental assistant. You can acquire your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs generally receive a Certificate. Dental Assistants typically require approximately one year of study prior to entering the work force. When pursuing a certificate or degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of education or credential you choose to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the right selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental assistant in North Dakota.