Find Dental Assistant Programs | How to Become a Dental Hygienist near Lakeville PA 18438

How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Lakeville 18438

dental assistant training in Lakeville PASelecting the right dental assistant college near Lakeville PA 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 much more to performing your due diligence than picking the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other significant issues to take into account as well, such as the program’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 specialties you are most interested in getting training for, which may depend on the amount of money and time that you are willing to invest. The most typical dental assistant program generally takes about one 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. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these considerations and additional questions that you should be asking the programs you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s review the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options provided.

The Duties of a Dental Assistant

Lakeville dental assistant helping dentist 18438Dental assistants are an indispensable part of any Lakeville dental practice and can undertake a multitude of tasks. Their principal job description is to provide support to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice operating efficiently. Some Pennsylvania dental assistants choose to specialize and receive certification in a specific area, such as periodontics. However the majority of assistants perform any task that they are asked to complete, including:

  • Scheduling and verifying appointments
  • Prepping patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
  • Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
  • Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
  • Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
  • Readying X-ray machines and processing X-rays
  • Ordering dental and office supplies

Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so consult with the Pennsylvania dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants working with X-ray machines most likely will need to be certified and licensed. Most 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 Function of Dental Hygienists

Lakeville dental hygienist treating patient in PennsylvaniaWhen comparing the role of a Lakeville dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. As previously mentioned, the dental assistant works with and in support of the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the Pennsylvania practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the first person a patient encounters 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 responsibilities may include:

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

In order to be licensed in almost 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 as well as any state licensing exams. When they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Assistant & Hygienist Education Options

Dental assistant programs are provided at Pennsylvania community colleges along with trade or vocational schools. The most common credential earned is the certificate, which usually takes about 1 year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more comprehensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. Due to the increased 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 require anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in almost every state. They are also offered in vocational schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are pursuing training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical component to the training also. A number of programs also sponsor internships with Lakeville area dental practices or dentists.

Online Dental Classes

attending dental assistant school online in Lakeville homeSelecting an online dental assistant or hygienist school might be a good alternative for receiving your training. Just remember that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Lakeville home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending college, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition costs than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The practical training can often be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to get the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this method of education, you might find that enrolling in an online dental school is the right choice for you.

What to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Programs

Questions to ask Pennsylvania dental colleges 18438Once you have picked the dental specialization and kind of credential you want to earn, you can begin the procedure of comparing Lakeville area programs and schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they search for several online options also. Although these are important initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the Pennsylvania colleges you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental program for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental assistant or hygienist program. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in almost all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the education you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Lakeville area employers typically prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, often they are not available for non-accredited schools.

Is The Appropriate Dental Program Offered? You can opt to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make sure that the college you choose has the program that you want. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to earn a living as a hygienist, most Lakeville area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not prevalent, are offered. However, keep in mind that just because a school has an exceptional reputation as well as accreditation does not mean all 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 solely interested in a dental hygiene degree, naturally it would not be the right college for you.

Is Plenty of Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an important part of every dental training program. This holds true for the online college options as well. Most Lakeville area dental colleges have associations with local dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the college you select offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type 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 school you select offers clinical rotation in an area dental office that specializes in dental services for children.

Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental programs you are considering sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal means to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a professional Lakeville dental practice. They help 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 as well.

Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Most graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene schools require help landing their first job. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental community as well as large networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.

Are the Classrooms Smaller? Check with the Pennsylvania colleges you are reviewing how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal atmosphere for training where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can sit in on a few classes at the school that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.

 What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene training can fluctuate in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other substantial expenses 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 examining the cost of colleges, remember to add all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial aid offices, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 18438 area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental college, you must verify that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while getting your education and need to go to classes near Lakeville in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, 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 need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family responsibilities.

Select the Right Dental College near Lakeville PA

Enrolling in the right dental assistant or dental hygienist course is important if you intend to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several options offered to acquire 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 generally earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be practicing in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists normally require about two years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing either a degree or a certificate you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever credential or mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the best choice. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.

 

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