Accredited Dental Assistant Programs | How to Become a Dental Hygienist near Flint Hill VA 22627

How to Pick a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Flint Hill 22627

dental assistant training in Flint Hill VASelecting the right dental hygienist school near Flint Hill VA is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than picking the training with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other important issues to take into account as well, including the program’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial 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 have to invest. The most common dental assistant program normally takes about 12 months to complete for a certificate or diploma. However, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these considerations and additional questions that you need to be asking the colleges 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 Duties of Dental Assistants

Flint Hill dental assistant helping dentist 22627Dental assistants are an essential part of any Flint Hill dental practice and can perform a myriad of tasks. Their main job description is to provide assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice operating successfully. Some Virginia dental assistants choose to specialize and earn certification in a particular area, for example periodontics. Even so the majority of assistants perform any job that they are called upon to complete, for example:

  • Setting and confirming appointments
  • Readying patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
  • Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
  • Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
  • Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
  • Readying X-ray machines and processing X-rays
  • Ordering dental and office supplies

Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so consult with the Virginia dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines most likely will need to be certified and licensed. 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 Dental Hygienists

Flint Hill dental hygienist treating patient in VirginiaWhen contrasting the duties of a Flint Hill dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the Virginia practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:

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

In order to be licensed 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 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 Hygienist and Assistant Education Options

Dental assistant courses are offered at Virginia junior colleges in addition to trade or vocational schools. The most frequent credential attained is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about 1 year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more expansive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. Because of the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices are often required to hold 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 nearly every state. They are also offered in trade 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 also. Many programs also sponsor internships with Flint Hill area dentists or dental practices.

Online Dental Classes

attending dental assistant school online in Flint Hill homeEnrolling in an online dental assistant or hygienist school might be a viable alternative for receiving your training. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the comfort of your Flint Hill home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental classes make education far more accessible. Many may even have lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The practical training can usually be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to get the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this method of education, you might find that enrolling in an online dental college is the right option for you.

Questions to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Programs

Questions to ask Virginia dental colleges 22627Once you have decided on the dental specialty and kind of credential you want to attain, you can start the procedure of comparing Flint Hill area schools and programs. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many students start by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they search for several online alternatives as well. Although these may be significant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the Virginia programs you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the ideal dental school for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental assistant or hygienist program. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite 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 ensure that the education you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Flint Hill area employers typically prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not obtainable 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 make sure that the college you choose offers the program that’s right for you. 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, the majority of Flint Hill area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are offered. However, keep in mind that even if a college has an exceptional reputation and accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college may have a solid accredited dental assistant program, but may have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are primarily interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the right school for you.

Is Sufficient Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a necessary part of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. A number of Flint Hill area dental schools have associations with regional dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only important 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. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in a local dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental schools you are looking at have an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective means to get hands-on, clinical experience in a real Flint Hill dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Many students that have graduated from dental assistant or hygiene programs require help getting their first job. Find out if the programs you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.

Are the Classes Smaller? Find out from the Virginia schools you are evaluating how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally offer a more personal setting for training where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can sit in on a few classes at the college that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.

 What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant training can vary in cost based on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, don’t forget to add all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial assistance departments, so make sure to ask what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 22627 area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental school, you must confirm that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while acquiring your education and need to go to classes near Flint Hill at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family responsibilities.

Find the Best Dental College near Flint Hill VA

Choosing the right dental hygienist or dental assistant course is important if you intend to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of options available to acquire your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools typically earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be working in just nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists typically require about 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When earning either a degree or a certificate you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of education or credential you elect to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the best choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.

 

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