How to Choose a Dental Assistant School in Ohio
Choosing the right dental assistant school in Ohio is an important initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than picking the training with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other important factors to consider as well, such as the college’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specialties you are most interested in receiving training for, which may depend on the amount of time and money that you are willing to commit. The most common dental assistant program generally takes about 1 year to finish for a diploma or certificate. Meanwhile dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Naturally with the more extensive training of a dental hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these factors and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental assistant schools you are assessing later in this article. But first, let’s look at the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options offered.
The Role of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an indispensable component of any Ohio dental office and can carry out a wide range of duties. Their principal job description is to provide support to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice working successfully. Some dental assistants opt to specialize and receive certification in a specific area, for instance orthodontics. Even so the majority of assistants carry out any job that they are asked to complete, for example:
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Readying patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Ordering office and dental supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so check with the Ohio dental board for your state’s policies. 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) exam offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Job of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the role of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest 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 Ohio practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient’s gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing patients about oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing in nearly 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 Examination in addition to passing any state licensure exams. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant and Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant programs are provided at Ohio junior colleges along with vocational or technical schools. The most typical credential attained is the certificate, which generally takes about one year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more comprehensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. Due to the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are normally required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require 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 Ohio 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 as well. A number of programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Assistant Online Training Programs
Enrolling in an online dental assistant college may be a good option for obtaining your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the convenience of your Ohio home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending college, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The practical training can typically be performed at an area dental office 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 dedication for this method of learning, you may find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online school is the right choice for you.
Points to Cover With Dental Assistant Colleges
After you have selected the dental specialty and type of credential you want to earn, you can begin the process of comparing Ohio programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many prospective students start by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Possibly they look for some online options as well. Although these are important initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the colleges you are comparing 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 final selection of the ideal dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental Assistant School Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental assistant school. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the education you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Employers in Ohio often desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited Ohio programs.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Offered? You can elect to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make sure that the Ohio school you choose has the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the choices are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to work as a hygienist, a large number of Ohio 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 a good reputation and accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a strong accredited dental hygienist program, but could have a weaker or non-accredited assistant program. So if you are only interested in a dental assistant degree, obviously it would not be the ideal college for you.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an essential component of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. Most dental programs have associations with regional dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the school you select provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the Ohio school you choose offers clinical rotation in a regional dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental programs you are considering sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the best way to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Ohio dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Many graduating students of dental assistant schools need help getting their first job. Ask if the colleges you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Ohio dental profession in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Smaller? Ask the Ohio programs you are reviewing how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal setting for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, larger classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the college that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the amount of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental assistant colleges can differ in cost based on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other substantial 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 analyzing the cost of colleges, don’t forget to add all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial aid departments, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in Ohio.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental school, you must make sure that the assistant program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while acquiring your education and have to attend classes near your Ohio home at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Pick the Ideal Dental Assistant Program in Ohio
Picking the right dental assistant program is important if you want to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of options available to receive your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental assistant. You can receive your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools generally earn a Certificate. Dental Assistants usually require about 1 year of study before they enter the work force. When obtaining a certificate or degree you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training or credential you decide 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 Ohio.