How to Select a Dental Assistant College in Wyoming
Picking the ideal dental assistant training in Wyoming is an important initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must examine and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than choosing the college with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your residence. There are other significant factors to consider as well, including the program’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 specialties you are most interested in getting training for, which may depend on the amount of money and time that you are willing to invest. The most common 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 finish. Naturally with the more extensive training of a dental hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these considerations and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental assistant schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options offered.
The Role of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an important part of any Wyoming dental practice and can undertake a variety of functions. Their principal job description is to furnish assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice operating efficiently. A number of dental assistants choose to specialize and earn certification in a specific area, for example pediatrics. Even so the majority of assistants carry out any job that they are asked to complete, including:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Readying patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Ordering office and dental supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so check with the Wyoming dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines most 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) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Function of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the duties of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is probably 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 Wyoming practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient’s gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing patients about oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
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 also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam in addition to passing any state licensure examinations. When they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant and Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant courses are offered at Wyoming junior colleges in addition to vocational or technical schools. The most common credential acquired is the certificate, which generally takes about one year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more expansive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. Because of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices are generally required to hold 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 Wyoming vocational schools and community colleges. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical component to the training also. Some programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Assistant Online Schools
Enrolling in an online dental assistant college might be a viable option for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Wyoming home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Some may even offer lower tuition costs than their traditional counterparts. And supplementary expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The practical training can often 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 provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist college is the ideal option for you.
Topics to Ask Dental Assistant Programs
After you have picked the dental specialty and type of credential you wish to obtain, you can start the procedure of comparing Wyoming programs and schools. As we covered at the start of this article, a number of students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they look for several online alternatives also. Even though these may be relevant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the colleges you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the right dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental Assistant School Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental assistant college. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in almost all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the education you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Employers in Wyoming frequently prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not provided for non-accredited Wyoming colleges.
Is The Correct Dental Program Available? You can opt to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just verify that the Wyoming school you select offers the program that you want. For the assistant program, the choices are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. If you want to earn a living as a hygienist, many Wyoming dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, keep in mind that even if a college has a good reputation as well as 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 may have a weaker or non-accredited assistant program. So if you are only interested in a dental assistant degree, clearly it would not be the ideal college for you.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an essential part of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. Most dental programs have relationships with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the college you choose offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the Wyoming program you choose offers clinical rotation in a local dental office that specializes in dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental schools you are considering sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective means to receive hands-on, practical experience in a professional Wyoming dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental assistant programs require help landing their first job. Find out if the schools you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Wyoming dental profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Smaller? Check with the Wyoming schools you are reviewing how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal setting for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, larger classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a few classes at the school that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental assistant training can differ in cost dependent on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also come into play. 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 examining the cost of programs, don’t forget to add all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial aid offices, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in Wyoming.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental school, you must confirm that the assistant program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and have to go to classes near your Wyoming home in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still need to schedule your clinical 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 issues.
Enroll in the Ideal Dental Assistant College in Wyoming
Choosing the right dental assistant course is important if you intend to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous options offered to receive your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental assistant. You can acquire your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools normally receive a Certificate. Dental Assistants typically require about 1 year of study before they enter the work force. When earning a certificate or degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever credential or mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental assistant in Wyoming.