How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Lovingston 22949
Selecting the ideal dental assistant college near Lovingston VA is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than picking the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other significant factors to consider as well, for instance the college’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specialties you are most interested in receiving training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you have to invest. The most typical dental assistant program normally takes about 1 year to finish for a certificate or diploma. On the other hand, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to finish. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these issues and additional questions that you should be asking the programs you are assessing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options provided.
The Role of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an important component of any Lovingston dental office and can undertake a wide range of functions. Their main job description is to give assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice operating efficiently. Many Virginia dental assistants elect to specialize and obtain certification in a specific area, for instance periodontics. However most assistants carry out any task that they are asked to complete, such as:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Ordering dental and office supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so check with the Virginia dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines more than likely will need to be licensed and certified. Many dental assistants who are either required or opt to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Job of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the job of a Lovingston dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. As earlier 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 a one-to-one basis. They are typically the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing patients regarding oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing in almost 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 Exam as well as any state licensure examinations. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist and Assistant Training Options
Dental assistant courses are available at Virginia junior colleges along with technical or vocational schools. The most frequent credential acquired is the certificate, which generally takes about one year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more extensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. Due to the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices are generally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require anywhere from two to as long as three 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 interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical aspect to the training also. Some programs also offer internships with Lovingston area dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Classes
Selecting an online dental assistant or hygienist college might be a good alternative for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Lovingston home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to school, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Some may even have lower tuition fees than their traditional counterparts. And additional expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The practical training can often be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to receive the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this style of education, you might find that enrolling in an dental online program is the right option for you.
Points to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Programs
Once you have selected the dental specialization and type of credential you want to earn, you can start the process of comparing Lovingston area schools and programs. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Possibly they search for several online options as well. Even though these are significant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the Virginia programs you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental college for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist or assistant college. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in virtually all states. In order 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 education you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Lovingston area employers often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited schools.
Is The Correct Dental Program Available? You can choose to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make certain that the college you select has the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. In order to earn a living as a hygienist, many Lovingston area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are offered. However, keep in mind that just because a college has an exceptional reputation and accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a solid accredited dental assistant program, but could have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are solely interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the best school for you.
Is Enough Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a vital portion of every dental training program. This holds true for the online college options as well. A number of Lovingston area dental programs have partnerships with local dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only important that the program you enroll in provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the program you select offers clinical rotation in an area dental office that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental colleges you are evaluating have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best method to receive hands-on, practical experience in a professional Lovingston 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 Assistance Furnished? Many graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene colleges need help obtaining their first job. Check if the programs you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental profession in addition to large networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Ask the Virginia colleges you are looking at how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more personal setting for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, larger classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can attend a few classes at the college that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant programs can fluctuate in cost dependent on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also come into play. 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 equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of schools, remember to include all of the costs related to your education. Most colleges have financial assistance departments, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 22949 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental school, you must confirm that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while getting your education and have to attend classes near Lovingston in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Best Dental Program near Lovingston VAPicking the right dental assistant or dental hygienist course is crucial if you want to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are many options available to receive your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can acquire your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs normally receive either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be practicing in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When earning either a degree or a certificate you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of education or credential you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal selection. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.