Dental Assistant Program

Good dental hygiene has positive effects beyond clean teeth and improved looks. Proper dental hygiene, including regular and frequent trips to the dentist, is an important measure in preventing a number of serious diseases. The bacteria involved in causing gum disease and tooth decay, when swallowed, also damages internal organs. These bacteria can cause such problems as heart disease. As dental work becomes increasingly seen as necessary, jobs in the dental industry should proliferate. Some jobs require years and years of education. There are many dental assistant programs that can be completed in just a couple of years following high school.

Choosing a dental assistant program means having to compare a variety of factors. First, prospective dental assistants must research the kind of degree, diploma, or certificate they want on their resume when they embark on a job search. While states do not require dental assistants to acquire a degree before being hired, gaining an education is the surest route to employment in the industry. The good news is that many programs are quite manageable for high school graduates. They rate high in both affordability and time to completion. There are an astounding number of one-year programs that give a diploma or a certificate to their graduates. These are available from vocational schools and technical colleges. Community colleges offer two-year degrees in dental assisting. Graduates will receive an associateís degree that includes additional education above and beyond the skills needed for dental assistants. Students learn chair-side assisting skills, patient management, and dental terminology they will need when working with dentists and specialists. They may also get training in using equipment like x-ray machines and teeth polishing tools.

Another major choice facing applicants to dental assistant programs is whether to seek a traditional brick and mortar education or to pursue training online. Recent analysis has shown that the per-credit cost of online education is similar to the cost of traditional course credits. There are undeniable savings to be had by getting an online degree, though. Transportation costs are slashed and, for many, housing costs become irrelevant, as they do not need to move near campus. Online programs give their participants more choice of programs. Students attending campus classes may be forced to choose the school closest to home or within the state, but distance learning gives students a wider field from which to choose. Courses can be completed at an individualís pace in many cases; students can log on to their course in the middle of the night if they wish. This flexibility helps students with jobs, children, and other responsibilities to gain degrees and advance their careers. Of course, many students prefer the traditional experience. They enjoy and gain from the personal contact with their teachers and advisers. In addition, some employers still esteem the traditional degree more than online degrees.

Different dental assistant programs offer varied kinds of work experience to their students. Many offer internships and clinical practice opportunities. These opportunities are important for two reasons. First, they provide invaluable practical experience. Candidates watch professionals perform their tasks while being involved in the care of actual patients. Students get to try their hand at their future profession under the safe guidance of a professional. Second, internships can lead to employment opportunities. Employers who offer internships have an opportunity to evaluate interns and that relationship cannot hurt when it comes to hiring time. When researching dental assistant programs, it is important to find out what kind of clinical training is offered. It is even possible to research the number of graduates the program puts into jobs immediately after they finish school.

Last Updated: 05/22/2014