How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Croydon 19021
Selecting the right dental assistant college near Croydon PA is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must assess and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than choosing the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant factors to consider also, for instance the program’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in receiving training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you have to commit. The most typical dental assistant program usually takes about 1 year to complete for a certificate or diploma. However, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these considerations and additional questions that you should be asking the programs you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let’s look at the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options available.
The Duties of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an indispensable part of any Croydon dental office and can perform a variety of duties. Their main job description is to furnish assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice running successfully. Some Pennsylvania dental assistants elect to specialize and acquire certification in a specific area, such as pediatrics. Even so the majority of assistants carry out any task that they are asked to fulfill, such as:
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Purchasing office and dental supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so check with the Pennsylvania dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants handling X-ray machines more than likely will have to be certified and licensed. Most dental assistants who are either required or decide to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Job of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the role of a Croydon dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. As earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the Pennsylvania practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and report their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying 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 must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination in addition to passing any state licensing examinations. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant & Hygienist Training Options
Dental assistant programs are available at Pennsylvania community colleges as well as technical or vocational schools. The most common credential earned is the certificate, which usually takes about one year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more comprehensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. As a result of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices are generally required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take anywhere from two to as long as three years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in almost every state. They are also offered in trade schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical component to the training as well. Many programs also offer internships with Croydon area dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Schools
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist or assistant program may be a good alternative for obtaining your education. Just remember that the classes will not be completely 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 convenience of your Croydon home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to school, online dental classes make education a lot more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The clinical training can typically be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to receive the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you might find that attending an dental online college is the best choice for you.
Questions to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Colleges
After you have decided on the dental specialty and type of credential you would like to attain, you can begin the procedure of comparing Croydon area programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, many prospective students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they look for several online alternatives as well. Although these may be significant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the Pennsylvania programs you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the right dental college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist or assistant program. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the instruction you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Croydon area employers typically prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited schools.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Offered? You can elect to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just verify that the school you select offers the program that you want. For the assistant program, the choices are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. If you want to work as a hygienist, the majority of Croydon area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are offered. However, bear in mind that just because a college has an exceptional reputation and accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a solid accredited dental assistant program, but could have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are just interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the best college for you.
Is Plenty of Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a necessary component of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. A number of Croydon area dental schools have relationships with local dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the school you enroll in offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a regional dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental programs you are exploring have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal means to get hands-on, practical experience in a professional Croydon dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Most graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene schools require help getting their first job. Find out if the schools you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental profession in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Small? Check with the Pennsylvania colleges you are looking at how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal setting for training where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can monitor a few classes at the school that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene schools can fluctuate in cost based on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of programs, don’t forget to add all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid departments, so make sure to check out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 19021 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental college, you need to verify that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while receiving your education and have to attend classes near Croydon in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still be required 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 due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Dental Program near Croydon PASelecting the right dental assistant or dental hygienist course is important if you wish to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of alternatives offered to obtain your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs typically receive either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be practicing in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require about 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When pursuing either a degree or a certificate you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training or credential you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the right selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.