How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Ford City 16226
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist program near Ford City PA is an important initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must examine and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than selecting the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your home. There are other crucial issues to consider 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 receiving training for, which may depend on the amount of time and money that you are willing to commit. The most typical dental assistant program usually takes about 1 year to finish for a diploma or certificate. On the other hand, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these factors and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the programs you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s look at the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options offered.
The Function of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an essential part of any Ford City dental office and can undertake a multitude of tasks. Their fundamental job description is to provide support to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice operating efficiently. Some Pennsylvania dental assistants opt to specialize and earn certification in a specific area, for example periodontics. Even so the majority of assistants perform any duty that they are called upon to complete, including:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Ordering dental and office supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so consult with the Pennsylvania dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants handling X-ray machines most likely will have to be certified and licensed. Many dental assistants who are either required or opt to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Job of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the job of a Ford City 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 supporting the Pennsylvania practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient’s teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients about oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
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 must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination in addition to passing any state licensing exams. Once they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant & Hygienist Training Options
Dental assistant courses are provided at Pennsylvania community colleges as well as trade or vocational schools. The most frequent credential acquired is the certificate, which generally takes about 1 year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more extensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. Due to the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental practices are generally required to have 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 virtually every state. They are also offered in vocational schools and community colleges. Whether you are interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical component to the training also. A number of programs also offer internships with Ford City area dentists or dental practices.
Dental Online Schools
Selecting an online dental assistant or hygienist school can be a viable alternative for obtaining your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Ford City home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending college, online dental classes make education far more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The clinical training can often be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you may find that enrolling in an dental online program is the best choice for you.
What to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Programs
When you have decided on the dental specialty and kind of credential you want to earn, you can begin the procedure of comparing Ford City area schools and programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students start by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Possibly they look for some online options as well. Although these may be relevant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the Pennsylvania programs you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the ideal dental college for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist or assistant program. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in almost all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the instruction you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Ford City area employers frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Available? You can opt to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just verify that the college you choose offers the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the choices are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to have a career as a hygienist, most Ford City 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 school has a good reputation as well as accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college 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, clearly it would not be the best school for you.
Is Enough Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an important portion of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. Most Ford City area dental programs have partnerships with area dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the school you select offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the school you select 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 evaluating have internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective means to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a real Ford City 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 look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Most graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant programs need help landing their first job. Ask if the programs you are reviewing 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 in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Small? Check with the Pennsylvania colleges you are interested in how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes generally offer a more personal setting for training where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the college that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the amount 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 amount of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of colleges, don’t forget to include all of the costs associated with your education. Most schools have financial aid departments, so make sure to find out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 16226 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental school, you must verify that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while getting your education and have to attend classes near Ford City in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family issues.
Select the Ideal Dental Program near Ford City PAChoosing the right dental hygienist or dental assistant program is important if you wish to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several options offered to receive your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can acquire your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools typically obtain either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be practicing in just nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When earning either a certificate or a degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. 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 ideal choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.