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Online Schools For Dental Assistants and Dental Hygienists

Dental assistants are the people in a dentist's office who directly assist the dentist, by taking x-rays, making molds of patients' teeth, sterilizing instruments, and aiding the dentist during certain dental procedures. Dental assistants often receive their training on the job, but some assistants choose to complete a dental assistant's program in order to receive more training and more pay. The dental hygienist, who must receive more education than most dental assistants but who also receives much more pay, is the person in the dentist's office who cleans and examines a patient's teeth and gums. For both of these positions in a dentist's office, those wishing to enter the field can now gain the bulk of their education by taking online courses.

Some people already working in the field of dentistry argue that an online degree program for dental hygiene or dental assistants is not the same as a traditional program, and that earning a degree online will make it harder to get a job in the field after graduation. However, considering that both fields expect to see a 30% increase in the number of positions available by 2016 – two of the fastest growing fields in the United States – it seems that this argument is not entirely valid. Several online programs, like their brick-and-mortar counterparts, are accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation, the branch of the American Dental Association that licenses dental assistants, dental hygienists, and others in the field of dentistry. It is highly likely that anyone graduating from an accredited program – online or traditional – will not have trouble finding a job during this period of rapid growth in the field.

 

Online Schools for Dental Assistants

Taking an accredited program to become a dental assistant usually takes one year or less. Coursework includes training both in the classroom, such as learning basic science and learning about oral health, and training in clinical settings to learn to use dental equipment and identify different dental instruments. A few programs for dental assistants online include: Anthem College, Ashworth University, Stratford Career Institute, and Penn Foster. While these different programs may vary in their specifics, in general students gain the following skills: CPR certification, learn proper lab procedures, the fundamentals of x-ray procedures, basic dental science, and preventative dental disease education. For the clinical portion of their education, students take an externship at a dental facility close to home.

 

Online Schools for Dental Hygiene

People interested in entering the field of dental hygiene must be very careful when choosing an online institution from which to receive their degree, because in many states, only students who graduate from an accredited program are allowed to gain a dental hygienist's license. At the present time, the American Dental Association accredits a little less than 300 programs, with at least one program in all fifty states. However, in a few states, there are only one or two brick-and-mortar programs available for dental hygienists, and the campus might not be very close to home. For these students, entering an online degree program can be an attractive alternative than driving hours to and from a college or university.

Online programs for dental hygiene fall into one of two categories: associate's degree in science for dental hygiene, which is usually a two-year program, or a bachelor's degree in dental hygiene, which requires the prior completion of an associate's degree, and involves an additional two to three years of coursework and study. Some online programs for dental hygiene, such as Anthem College, require that the candidate first earns a certificate in dental assisting. With a certificate as a dental assistant, the candidate can then gain acceptance into the dental hygiene program. Because becoming a dental hygienist requires a good deal of hands-on training, the online schools form partnerships with various brick-and-mortar universities, as well as dentist's offices around the country, so that students can complete the clinical portion of their education.

 

 


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