Top Dental Assistant Schools | How to Become a Dental Assistant near Kittanning PA 16201

How to Enroll In a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Kittanning 16201

dental assistant training in Kittanning PASelecting the right dental assistant school near Kittanning PA is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than choosing the college with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your residence. There are other important issues to consider also, for instance the college’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the 2 specialties you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you have to invest. The most typical dental assistant program generally takes about 1 year to complete for a certificate or diploma. Meanwhile, dental hygienists generally 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 discuss all of these issues and additional questions that you should be asking the colleges you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s review the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options available.

The Duties of Dental Assistants

Kittanning dental assistant helping dentist 16201Dental assistants are an essential part of any Kittanning dental practice and can undertake a multitude of functions. Their principal job description is to give assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice working efficiently. Many Pennsylvania dental assistants choose to specialize and obtain certification in a particular area, for example orthodontics. Even so most assistants perform any task that they are asked to fulfill, including:

  • Setting and verifying appointments
  • Prepping patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
  • Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
  • Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
  • Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
  • Prepping X-ray machines and handling X-rays
  • Purchasing dental and office supplies

Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so consult with the Pennsylvania dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines more than likely will need to be certified and licensed. Most dental assistants who are either required or decide to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

The Duties of a Dental Hygienist

Kittanning dental hygienist treating patient in PennsylvaniaWhen contrasting the role of a Kittanning dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the Pennsylvania practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient’s gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:

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

In order to be licensed in almost 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 Exam in addition to passing any state licensing examinations. When they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist and Assistant Education Options

Dental assistant courses are provided at Pennsylvania community colleges as well as technical or vocational schools. The most typical credential earned is the certificate, which generally takes about 1 year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more comprehensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. As a result of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are normally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require anywhere from two to as long as three years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually every state. They are also offered in vocational schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are pursuing training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a clinical aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with Kittanning area dental practices or dentists.

Dental Online Training

attending dental assistant school online in Kittanning homeChoosing an online dental assistant or hygienist program might be a great option for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Kittanning home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to college, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Many may even have lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The practical training can often be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to get the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this style of education, you might find that attending an online dental school is the best choice for you.

Questions to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Colleges

Questions to ask Pennsylvania dental colleges 16201After you have decided on the dental specialization and type of credential you would like to attain, you can start the procedure of comparing Kittanning area schools and programs. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Possibly they search for some online alternatives as well. Although these may be important initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the Pennsylvania programs you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the right dental college for you.

Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental assistant or hygienist program. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in almost all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the education you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Kittanning area employers frequently desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited colleges.

Is The Correct Dental Program Available? You can opt to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just confirm that the college you decide on offers the program that you want. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. In order to work as a hygienist, the majority of Kittanning area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, keep in mind that even if a college has an excellent 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 may 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 a vital portion of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options also. Many Kittanning area dental programs have relationships with local dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the school you choose provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in an area dental office that specializes in dental services for children.

Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental colleges you are exploring have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective way to get hands-on, practical experience in a real Kittanning 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 are attractive on resumes as well.

Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Most graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant colleges need assistance getting their first job. Find out if the schools you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental community in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.

Are Classes Small? Find out from the Pennsylvania schools you are evaluating how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more intimate setting for training where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, large classes tend to be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can sit in on a few classes at the school 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 assistant and dental hygiene schools can fluctuate in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant 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 colleges, remember to include all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance offices, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 16201 area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental college, you must verify that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while acquiring your education and have to attend classes near Kittanning at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family responsibilities.

Select the Right Dental Program near Kittanning PA

Choosing the right dental assistant or dental hygienist course is essential if you wish to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many alternatives available to obtain your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can acquire your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools generally obtain either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be practicing in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require about two years of studies before they enter the job market. When obtaining 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 addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the best selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.

 

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