Top Dental Hygienist Colleges | How to Become a Dental Assistant near Bernardston MA 01337

How to Find the Right Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Bernardston 01337

dental assistant training in Bernardston MAPicking the ideal dental hygienist college near Bernardston MA is an essential initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than choosing the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other significant factors to take into account also, for instance the college’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may depend on the amount of money and time that you have to commit. The most common dental assistant program generally takes about one year to finish for a diploma or certificate. However, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to finish. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these issues and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the programs you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s explore the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options provided.

The Function of Dental Assistants

Bernardston dental assistant helping dentist 01337Dental assistants are an essential component of any Bernardston dental office and can carry out a variety of functions. Their primary job description is to give assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice operating efficiently. Some Massachusetts dental assistants opt to specialize and earn certification in a specific area, for example pediatrics. However most assistants perform any task that they are called upon to fulfill, such as:

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

Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so consult with the Massachusetts dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants working with X-ray machines more than likely will need to be licensed and certified. Many dental assistants who are either required or decide to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

The Job of a Dental Hygienist

Bernardston dental hygienist treating patient in MassachusettsWhen comparing the role of a Bernardston dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. As earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and in support of the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the Massachusetts practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties may include:

  • Removing plaque, tartar and stains
  • Applying fluoride treatments
  • Polishing teeth and applying sealants
  • Educating patients regarding oral care
  • Taking X-rays and developing film
  • Removing sutures and applying fillings

In order to be licensed in almost 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 Examination as well as any state licensure exams. Once they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Assistant & Hygienist Training Options

Dental assistant courses are offered at Massachusetts community colleges as well as technical or vocational schools. The most typical credential earned is the certificate, which generally takes about 1 year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more expansive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. As a result of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working 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 nearly every state. They are also offered in vocational schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a clinical aspect to the training as well. Many programs also offer internships with Bernardston area dentists or dental practices.

Dental Online Classes

attending dental assistant school online in Bernardston homeChoosing an online dental assistant or hygienist program can be a good alternative for receiving your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Bernardston home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition rates than their traditional counterparts. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The practical training can often be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to get the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this method of education, you may find that attending an online dental program is the right choice for you.

Subjects to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Programs

Questions to ask Massachusetts dental colleges 01337Once you have decided on the dental specialty and type of credential you wish to earn, you can begin the procedure of comparing Bernardston area programs and schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they look for some online alternatives as well. Although these are important initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you should address to the Massachusetts colleges you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the ideal dental school for you.

Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist or assistant college. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in almost all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the training you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Bernardston area employers often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, often they are not offered for non-accredited programs.

Is The Appropriate Dental Program Available? You can decide to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just confirm that the school you decide on has the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. If you want to earn a living as a hygienist, the majority of Bernardston area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are available. However, keep in mind that even if a school has an excellent 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 only interested in a dental hygiene degree, naturally it would not be the best college for you.

Is Enough Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a vital component of any dental training program. This holds true for the online college options as well. Most Bernardston area dental schools have partnerships with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the college you select provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the college you select offers clinical rotation in a regional dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental colleges you are considering have internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective way to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a real Bernardston dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes too.

Is Job Placement Help Offered? Most graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant programs require assistance landing their first job. Ask if the programs you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental community as well as large networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.

Are the Classes Smaller? Find out from the Massachusetts schools you are interested in how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can monitor a few classes at the school that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.

 What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant colleges can vary in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of programs, don’t forget to include all of the expenses associated with your education. Most schools have financial assistance offices, so make sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 01337 area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental school, you need to make sure that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and have to go to classes near Bernardston at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family responsibilities.

Enroll in the Ideal Dental School near Bernardston MA

Picking the right dental assistant or dental hygienist program is essential if you wish to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of options offered to acquire your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs typically earn either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be practicing in as little as nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists normally require about 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing either a certificate or a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training or credential you decide 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 commence your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.

 

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