How to Pick a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Bala Cynwyd 19004
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist program near Bala Cynwyd PA is an important initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than choosing the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your residence. There are other crucial factors to take into account as well, such as the program’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specialties you are most interested in getting training for, which may be contingent on the amount of time and money that you have to invest. The most typical dental assistant program usually takes about 12 months to finish for a diploma or certificate. On the other hand, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the colleges you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let’s explore the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options provided.
The Job of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an integral part of any Bala Cynwyd dental office and can carry out a wide range of functions. Their principal job description is to provide assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice operating efficiently. Many Pennsylvania dental assistants opt to specialize and obtain certification in a specific area, for example pediatrics. However the majority of assistants perform any duty that they are called upon to complete, for example:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Ordering office and dental supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so check with the Pennsylvania dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants working with X-ray machines more than likely will need to be certified and licensed. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or choose to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Duties of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the job of a Bala Cynwyd dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. As earlier mentioned, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the Pennsylvania practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are frequently the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients about oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed in nearly all states, dental hygienists must graduate from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination in addition to passing any state licensure examinations. After they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant & Hygienist Training Options
Dental assistant courses are available at Pennsylvania community colleges along with trade or vocational schools. The most common credential earned is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about a year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more expansive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. Due to the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are usually required to hold 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 practical component to the training as well. Some programs also offer internships with Bala Cynwyd area dental practices or dentists.
Dental Online Classes
Choosing an online dental assistant or hygienist school might be a great alternative for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Bala Cynwyd home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The clinical training can typically be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to obtain the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this method of learning, you may find that attending an online dental school is the right choice for you.
What to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Programs
After you have picked the dental specialty and kind of credential you wish to obtain, you can begin the process of comparing Bala Cynwyd area programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many prospective students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they look for several online alternatives as well. Although these are significant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the Pennsylvania programs you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the ideal dental school for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental assistant or hygienist college. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly 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 ensure that the education you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Bala Cynwyd area employers typically prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Proper Dental Program Offered? You can decide to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just confirm that the college you choose has the program that you want. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. If you want to have a career as a hygienist, the majority of Bala Cynwyd area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are offered. However, bear in mind that even if a school has a good reputation and 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 could have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are primarily interested in a dental hygiene degree, naturally it would not be the best school for you.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a necessary portion of every dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. A number of Bala Cynwyd area dental schools have partnerships with regional dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the program you select offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in an area dental office that specializes in dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental programs you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the best method to get hands-on, practical experience in a real Bala Cynwyd dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental assistant or hygiene programs need help landing their first job. Check if the programs you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental profession in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Check with the Pennsylvania colleges you are evaluating how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate environment for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, larger classes often are impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a few classes at the school that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant programs can fluctuate in cost dependent on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other significant expenses 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 analyzing the cost of colleges, don’t forget to add all of the expenses associated with your education. Most schools have financial aid departments, so be sure to check out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 19004 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental college, you need to make sure that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while acquiring your education and must attend classes near Bala Cynwyd at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Dental School near Bala Cynwyd PAEnrolling in the right dental hygienist or dental assistant course is crucial if you wish to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several alternatives available to receive your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can receive your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs normally earn either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be practicing in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists typically require about 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When obtaining either a degree or a certificate you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training or credential you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the best selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.