How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Pleasant Mount 18453
Picking the right dental hygienist school near Pleasant Mount PA is an essential first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than selecting the school with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your home. There are other crucial factors to take into account as well, including the school’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the 2 specialties you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may depend on the amount of time and money that you are willing to commit. The most typical dental assistant program generally takes about 1 year to finish for a diploma or certificate. On the other hand, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to complete. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the programs you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s review the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options available.
The Duties of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an important component of any Pleasant Mount dental practice and can carry out a wide range of functions. Their principal job description is to give assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice running efficiently. Many Pennsylvania dental assistants elect to specialize and earn certification in a particular area, such as periodontics. Even so most assistants carry out any job that they are called upon to fulfill, including:
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Readying patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Ordering dental and office supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so consult with the Pennsylvania dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines most likely will need to be licensed and certified. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or choose to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Function of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the duties of a Pleasant Mount dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and in support of the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the Pennsylvania practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
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 Exam in addition to passing any state licensure exams. When they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist and Assistant Education Options
Dental assistant programs are available at Pennsylvania junior colleges in addition to trade or vocational schools. The most common credential earned is the certificate, which usually takes about a year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more extensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. Because of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are usually 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 interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with Pleasant Mount area dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Colleges
Selecting an online dental hygienist or assistant college can be a great option for obtaining your training. Just remember that the program will not be totally 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 comfort of your Pleasant Mount home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to college, online dental classes make education much more obtainable. Some may even charge lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The clinical training can usually be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to receive the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you may find that attending an online dental college is the ideal choice for you.
What to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Colleges
When you have decided on the dental specialty and type of credential you wish to obtain, you can start the process of comparing Pleasant Mount area schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many prospective students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they search for several online options as well. Although these may be important initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the Pennsylvania colleges you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the ideal dental program for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental assistant or hygienist school. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in nearly all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the education you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Pleasant Mount area employers frequently desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not provided for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Right Dental Program Offered? You can opt to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make certain that the college you select 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, many Pleasant Mount 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 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 solid accredited dental assistant program, but may 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 best college for you.
Is Plenty of Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a vital portion of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. A number of Pleasant Mount area dental schools have relationships with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the college you enroll in offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in an area dental practice that specializes in dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental programs you are evaluating have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective way to get hands-on, practical experience in a professional Pleasant Mount dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental hygiene or assistant colleges need assistance obtaining their first job. Check if the programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental profession as well as broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Check with the Pennsylvania schools you are reviewing how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can monitor a couple of classes at the college that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant programs can differ in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, for instance 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 expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, don’t forget to add all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance offices, so make sure to ask what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 18453 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental school, you must verify that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and must go to classes near Pleasant Mount in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.
Select the Best Dental College near Pleasant Mount PAPicking the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant course is crucial if you wish to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous options available to receive your education and it takes a relatively short period 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 a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be practicing in as little as nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When obtaining either a certificate or a degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of education or credential you choose to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.