Top Dental Hygienist Programs | How to Become a Dental Assistant near Muir PA 17957

How to Pick a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Muir 17957

dental assistant training in Muir PAChoosing the ideal dental assistant program near Muir PA is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than choosing the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other significant issues to consider as well, such as the program’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the 2 specializations you are most interested in receiving training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you are willing to commit. The most common dental assistant program generally takes about 12 months to finish for a diploma or certificate. However, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to finish. Naturally 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 colleges you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let’s look at the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options available.

The Function of Dental Assistants

Muir dental assistant helping dentist 17957Dental assistants are an essential component of any Muir dental practice and can carry out a variety of tasks. Their principal job description is to provide support to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice running successfully. Many Pennsylvania dental assistants elect to specialize and earn certification in a specific area, for example pediatrics. However most assistants perform any job that they are called upon to fulfill, for example:

  • Setting and verifying appointments
  • Prepping patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
  • Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
  • Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
  • Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
  • Prepping X-ray machines and processing X-rays
  • Purchasing dental and office supplies

Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so check with the Pennsylvania dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants handling X-ray machines more than likely will have to be licensed and certified. Many dental assistants who are either required or choose to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

The Function of Dental Hygienists

Muir dental hygienist treating patient in PennsylvaniaWhen comparing the duties of a Muir dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As previously mentioned, 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 often the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:

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

In order to be licensed in nearly all states, dental hygienists must graduate from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam as well as any state licensure examinations. Once they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist & Assistant Training Options

Dental assistant courses are offered at Pennsylvania community colleges along with trade or vocational schools. The most common credential attained is the certificate, which generally takes about 1 year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more comprehensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. Due to the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are generally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take anywhere from two to as long as three years to complete 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 aspect to the training as well. Some programs also offer internships with Muir area dental practices or dentists.

Online Dental Colleges

attending dental assistant school online in Muir homeEnrolling in an online dental assistant or hygienist program may be a great option for getting your training. Just remember that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the convenience of your Muir home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental classes make education a lot more obtainable. Some may even charge lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The clinical training can typically be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to receive the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you may find that attending an dental online school is the right choice for you.

Topics to Cover With Dental Assistant or Hygienist Programs

Questions to ask Pennsylvania dental colleges 17957Once you have selected the dental specialty and type of credential you wish to attain, you can begin the procedure of comparing Muir area schools and programs. As we discussed at the start of this article, a number of students start by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they look for several online options also. Even though these are important initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the Pennsylvania colleges 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 evaluation and ultimate selection of the right dental college for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental assistant or hygienist school. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Muir area employers typically desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited programs.

Is The Right Dental Program Available? You can choose to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make certain that the school you choose has 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. If you want to have a career as a hygienist, the majority of Muir area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, bear in mind that even if a college 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 solid accredited dental assistant program, but could have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are primarily interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the best college for you.

Is Enough Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an important portion of every dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. Many Muir area dental colleges have partnerships with area dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the program you enroll in offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the program you select offers clinical rotation in an area dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.

Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental schools you are looking at have an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal way to receive hands-on, practical experience in a professional Muir dental practice. They make it easier for 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 too.

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

Are Classrooms Small? Ask the Pennsylvania programs you are interested in how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal environment for training where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, larger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can monitor a couple of classes at the school that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.

 What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene training can fluctuate in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of colleges, don’t forget to add all of the expenses associated with your education. Most colleges have financial aid departments, so make sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 17957 area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental school, you need to confirm that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while acquiring your education and need to attend classes near Muir in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Find the Best Dental College near Muir PA

Picking the right dental assistant or dental hygienist course is important if you wish to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous options offered to acquire your training and it takes a fairly short amount 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 schools normally receive either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be working in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require about 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When earning either a certificate or a degree you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training or credential you decide to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.

 

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