Accredited Dental Assistant Training | How to Become a Dental Assistant near Penn Laird VA 22846

How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Training Program near Penn Laird 22846

dental assistant training in Penn Laird VASelecting the ideal dental assistant training near Penn Laird VA is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must examine and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than selecting the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your home. There are other crucial issues to take into account as well, for instance the school’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specialties you are most interested in getting training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you have to invest. The most typical dental assistant program usually takes about 12 months to complete for a certificate or diploma. On the other hand, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to complete. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these issues and supplemental questions that you should be asking the colleges you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s look at the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options provided.

The Function of a Dental Assistant

Penn Laird dental assistant helping dentist 22846Dental assistants are an indispensable component of any Penn Laird dental office and can carry out a variety of tasks. Their primary job description is to give support to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice running successfully. Many Virginia dental assistants choose to specialize and earn certification in a specific area, for instance periodontics. However the majority of assistants perform any duty that they are asked to fulfill, such as:

  • Setting and confirming appointments
  • Readying patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
  • Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
  • Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
  • Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
  • Readying X-ray machines and handling X-rays
  • Ordering office and dental supplies

Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so consult with the Virginia dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants handling X-ray machines most likely will have to be licensed and certified. A large number of 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 a Dental Hygienist

Penn Laird dental hygienist treating patient in VirginiaWhen contrasting the role of a Penn Laird 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 assists the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the Virginia practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties may include:

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

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

Dental Assistant & Hygienist Training Options

Dental assistant courses are offered at Virginia community colleges as well as trade or vocational schools. The most typical credential acquired is the certificate, which usually takes about 1 year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more extensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. Because of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices are often 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 community colleges and technical schools. 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 Penn Laird area dentists or dental practices.

Dental Online Classes

attending dental assistant school online in Penn Laird homeEnrolling in an online dental hygienist or assistant program can be a good alternative for obtaining your education. Just remember that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the convenience of your Penn Laird home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending school, online dental programs make education much more accessible. Some may even have lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The clinical training can usually be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to receive the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you may find that attending an dental online school is the best option for you.

Subjects to Cover With Dental Assistant or Hygienist Schools

Questions to ask Virginia dental colleges 22846After you have picked the dental specialization and kind of credential you would like to earn, you can start the process of comparing Penn Laird area programs and schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they look for several online alternatives also. Although these may be relevant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the Virginia programs you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the best dental college for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental assistant or hygienist college. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the education you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Penn Laird area employers often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not obtainable for non-accredited colleges.

Is The Appropriate Dental Program Offered? You can opt to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just confirm that the school you decide on has the program that you want. For the assistant program, the options are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. In order to have a career as a hygienist, many Penn Laird area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are offered. However, keep in mind that just because a college has a good 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, clearly it would not be the ideal school for you.

Is Sufficient Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an important portion of every dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. Many Penn Laird area dental colleges have associations with area dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the school you select offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local dental office that focuses on dental care for children.

Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental colleges you are looking at sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective means to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a real Penn Laird dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Support Offered? Most graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant colleges require assistance getting their first job. Ask if the schools you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental profession in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.

Are Classrooms Small? Check with the Virginia programs you are reviewing how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal environment for training where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, bigger classes often are impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the school that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.

 What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene colleges can fluctuate in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other substantial 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 programs, remember to add all of the costs associated with your education. Most schools have financial aid offices, so be sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 22846 area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental school, you must confirm that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while acquiring your education and have to go to classes near Penn Laird in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Select the Right Dental School near Penn Laird VA

Picking the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist course is imperative if you want to take the CDA exam or, if mandated 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 assistant or hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools 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 approximately 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 choose to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the right selection. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.

 

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