Accredited Dental Assistant Programs | How to Become a Dental Assistant near Fincastle VA 24090

How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Fincastle 24090

dental assistant training in Fincastle VASelecting the right dental hygienist school near Fincastle VA is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than choosing the training with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other crucial factors to take into account also, including the program’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 specializations you are most interested in getting training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you are willing to commit. The most common dental assistant program usually takes about 1 year to finish for a diploma or certificate. However, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to complete. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you should be asking the colleges you are assessing later in this article. But first, let’s look at the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options available.

The Function of a Dental Assistant

Fincastle dental assistant helping dentist 24090Dental assistants are an indispensable part of any Fincastle dental practice and can undertake a multitude of functions. Their main job description is to furnish support to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice operating efficiently. Many Virginia dental assistants elect to specialize and obtain certification in a particular area, for example periodontics. Even so most assistants carry out any job that they are asked to complete, including:

  • Setting and verifying appointments
  • Readying patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
  • 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
  • Ordering office and dental supplies

Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so consult with the Virginia dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants handling X-ray machines most likely will need to be licensed and certified. Many dental assistants who are either required or elect to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

The Duties of a Dental Hygienist

Fincastle dental hygienist treating patient in VirginiaWhen comparing the duties of a Fincastle dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. As previously mentioned, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the Virginia practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient’s teeth and gums and report their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:

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

To qualify for licensing in nearly 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 in addition to passing any state licensing examinations. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Assistant & Hygienist Training Options

Dental assistant programs are provided at Virginia junior colleges in addition to vocational or technical schools. The most common credential acquired is the certificate, which usually takes about a year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more extensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. As a result of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are often 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 nearly every state. They are also offered in community colleges and technical schools. Regardless of whether you are pursuing training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a clinical component to the training as well. Many programs also offer internships with Fincastle area dentists or dental practices.

Dental Online Classes

attending dental assistant school online in Fincastle homeSelecting an online dental hygienist or assistant program may be a good alternative for obtaining your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the convenience of your Fincastle home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental programs make education much more accessible. Some may even have lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The clinical training can typically be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to get the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you may find that attending an online dental school is the ideal option for you.

Questions to Cover With Dental Assistant or Hygienist Programs

Questions to ask Virginia dental colleges 24090After you have decided on the dental specialty and type of credential you wish to attain, you can begin the process of comparing Fincastle area programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they look for some online options also. Although these are relevant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the Virginia schools you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental program for you.

Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental assistant or hygienist school. 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 examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the training you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Fincastle area employers typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited schools.

Is The Proper Dental Program Offered? You can opt to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make sure that the college you select offers the program that you want. 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, a large number of Fincastle 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 a good reputation and 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 may have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are solely interested in a dental hygiene degree, naturally it would not be the ideal college for you.

Is Enough Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an essential portion of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. Most Fincastle area dental schools have associations with local dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the school you enroll in offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like 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 an area dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental schools you are exploring have internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal means to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a professional Fincastle dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes too.

Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental assistant or hygiene schools need help landing their first job. Check if the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental community in addition to large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.

Are Classrooms Smaller? Ask the Virginia programs you are reviewing how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal environment for training where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend 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 teachers before enrolling.

 What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene programs can fluctuate in cost depending on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges 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 equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, remember to include all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance departments, so be sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 24090 area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental college, you need to confirm that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while acquiring your education and must attend classes near Fincastle 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 practice is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.

Choose the Ideal Dental College near Fincastle VA

Enrolling in the right dental hygienist or dental assistant program is important if you intend to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many alternatives offered to obtain your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can obtain your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs generally 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 roughly two years of studies before they enter the work force. When obtaining either a certificate or a degree you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever credential or mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.

 

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