How to Enroll In a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Coal Mountain 24823
Choosing the right dental assistant college near Coal Mountain WV is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must assess and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than picking the school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your home. There are other important factors to consider also, including the program’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 specialties you are most interested in getting training for, which may depend on the amount of money and time that you have to invest. The most common dental assistant program usually takes about one year to complete for a diploma or certificate. Meanwhile, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these factors and additional questions that you should be asking the schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s look at the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options available.
The Function of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an important part of any Coal Mountain dental practice and can undertake a multitude of duties. Their principal job description is to provide support to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice operating successfully. Some West Virginia dental assistants opt to specialize and acquire certification in a particular area, for example orthodontics. Even so most assistants perform any job that they are called upon to fulfill, for example:
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Ordering dental and office supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so consult with the West Virginia dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants working with X-ray machines most likely will have to be licensed and certified. Most dental assistants who are either required or elect to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Job of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the role of a Coal Mountain dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As previously mentioned, the dental assistant works with and in support of the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the West Virginia practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients regarding 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 must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam as well as any state licensure examinations. When they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant and Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant programs are available at West Virginia community colleges along with trade or vocational schools. The most common credential earned is the certificate, which generally takes about one year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more comprehensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. Because of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are generally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in almost every state. They are also offered in trade schools and community colleges. Whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical component to the training also. A number of programs also sponsor internships with Coal Mountain area dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Colleges
Selecting an online dental hygienist or assistant program can be a viable alternative for obtaining your education. Just remember that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the convenience of your Coal Mountain home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to school, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition costs than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The clinical training can often be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you may find that enrolling in an online dental program is the ideal choice for you.
Topics to Cover With Dental Assistant or Hygienist Programs
After you have selected the dental specialization and kind of credential you would like to attain, you can begin the process of comparing Coal Mountain area programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, many potential students start by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Possibly they look for several online alternatives also. Although these may be important initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the West Virginia programs you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the best dental college for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist or assistant school. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in virtually all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the training you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Coal Mountain area employers typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not obtainable for non-accredited programs.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Available? You can opt to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make sure that the college you decide on has the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the options are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. If you want to have a career as a hygienist, most Coal Mountain area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, bear in mind that even if a college has an excellent reputation as well as accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a strong accredited dental assistant program, but might 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 ideal school for you.
Is Enough Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an essential portion of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options also. Many Coal Mountain area dental schools have partnerships with regional dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the school you select offers enough 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, confirm that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a regional dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental programs you are exploring sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best method to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Coal Mountain dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental assistant or hygiene schools need assistance landing their first job. Find out if the programs you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental community in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Small? Ask the West Virginia colleges you are looking at how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, larger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the college that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the amount of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant schools can differ in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of programs, remember to include all of the costs associated with your education. Most schools have financial aid offices, so be sure to check out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 24823 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental school, you need to verify that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and have to go to classes near Coal Mountain at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Pick the Right Dental College near Coal Mountain WVChoosing the right dental assistant or dental hygienist program is crucial if you want to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous options available to receive your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can acquire your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools normally obtain either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be working in just nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require approximately two years of studies before they enter the job market. When earning either a certificate or a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of education or credential you elect to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate choice. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.