Accredited Dental Hygienist Colleges | How to Become a Dental Assistant near Atlantic VA 23303

How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Atlantic 23303

dental assistant training in Atlantic VAChoosing the ideal dental hygienist college near Atlantic VA is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must assess and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than selecting the program with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other significant issues to take into account also, such as the college’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in obtaining 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 normally takes about 12 months to finish for a certificate or diploma. However, 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 hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these issues and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the schools you are assessing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options available.

The Role of Dental Assistants

Atlantic dental assistant helping dentist 23303Dental assistants are an essential component of any Atlantic dental office and can undertake a wide range of functions. Their primary job description is to furnish assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice running successfully. Some Virginia dental assistants opt to specialize and obtain certification in a specific area, for instance orthodontics. Even so the majority of assistants perform any task that they are asked to complete, for example:

  • Scheduling and confirming appointments
  • Preparing patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
  • Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
  • Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
  • Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
  • Preparing X-ray machines and handling X-rays
  • Purchasing dental and office supplies

Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so check with the Virginia dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants handling X-ray machines most likely will need to be certified and licensed. Many dental assistants who are either required or opt to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

The Duties of Dental Hygienists

Atlantic dental hygienist treating patient in VirginiaWhen contrasting the duties of a Atlantic dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. As earlier mentioned, the dental assistant works with and assists the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the Virginia 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 teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:

  • Removing tartar, stains and plaque
  • Administering fluoride treatments
  • Polishing teeth and applying sealants
  • Teaching patients about oral care
  • Taking and developing X-rays
  • Removing sutures and applying fillings

To qualify for licensing in almost all states, dental hygienists must graduate 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 examinations. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist & Assistant Education Options

Dental assistant programs are offered at Virginia junior colleges as well as trade or vocational schools. The most frequent credential attained is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about one year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more expansive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. As a result of the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are generally required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take 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 community colleges and technical schools. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a clinical component to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with Atlantic area dentists or dental practices.

Dental Online Training Programs

attending dental assistant school online in Atlantic homeEnrolling in an online dental assistant or hygienist college may be a viable option for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Atlantic home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition rates than their traditional counterparts. And added expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The clinical training can typically be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to get the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you might find that attending an dental online school is the ideal choice for you.

Questions to Cover With Dental Assistant or Hygienist Programs

Questions to ask Virginia dental colleges 23303Once you have picked the dental specialty and type of credential you wish to attain, you can begin the process of comparing Atlantic area schools and programs. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Maybe they look for some online options as well. Even though these are important initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the Virginia colleges you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the ideal dental college for you.

Is the Dental College Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist or assistant college. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in almost all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the instruction you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Atlantic area employers typically prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.

Is The Correct Dental Program Available? You can opt to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make sure that the college you decide on offers the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the choices are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. In order to earn a living as a hygienist, the majority of Atlantic area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are available. However, keep in mind that just because a school has a good reputation as well as accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college may have a solid accredited dental assistant program, but might have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are primarily interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the right college for you.

Is Plenty of Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a necessary portion of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. Many Atlantic area dental colleges have associations with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only important that the college you enroll in offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a regional dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.

Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental schools you are exploring have internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective way to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Atlantic dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they look good on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Help Offered? Many graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant programs require assistance obtaining their first job. Ask if the colleges you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental community in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.

Are Classes Smaller? Find out from the Virginia colleges you are evaluating how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate atmosphere for training where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes can be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the college that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.

 What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene programs can differ in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private 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 textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of colleges, remember to include all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance departments, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 23303 area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental college, you must make sure that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while getting your education and have to attend classes near Atlantic in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still be required 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 because of illness, work or family issues.

Select the Best Dental Program near Atlantic VA

Enrolling in the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant course is important if you wish to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of options offered to obtain your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs generally earn either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be practicing in just nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists normally require about 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When pursuing either a certificate or a degree you can choose to attend 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 ideal selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.

 

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