How to Find the Right Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Plymouth 18651
Selecting the right dental assistant program near Plymouth PA is an important 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 far more to performing your due diligence than selecting the training with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your residence. There are other crucial issues to consider also, such as the program’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in receiving 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 12 months to finish 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 cost. We will explore all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you should be asking the programs you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let’s explore the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options available.
The Duties of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an important part of any Plymouth dental office and can carry out a multitude of functions. Their principal job description is to furnish support to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice operating efficiently. A number of Pennsylvania dental assistants opt to specialize and earn certification in a specific area, for example periodontics. Even so most assistants perform any job that they are called upon to fulfill, for example:
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Purchasing office and dental supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so consult with the Pennsylvania dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants handling X-ray machines most likely will need to be licensed and certified. Many dental assistants who are either required or choose to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Job of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the duties of a Plymouth dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. As earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the Pennsylvania practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients regarding oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing 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 in addition to passing any state licensing examinations. After 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 courses are provided at Pennsylvania junior colleges as well as vocational or technical schools. The most common credential earned is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about a year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more expansive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. As a result of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are normally 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 nearly every state. They are also offered in trade schools and community colleges. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a clinical aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with Plymouth area dentists or dental practices.
Dental Online Classes
Choosing an online dental assistant or hygienist college may be a great alternative for obtaining your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the convenience of your Plymouth home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The clinical training can typically 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 proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this mode of education, you might find that enrolling in an online dental program is the best choice for you.
Topics to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Colleges
Once you have picked the dental specialty and kind of credential you would like to earn, you can begin the procedure of comparing Plymouth area schools and programs. As we discussed at the start of this article, many students start by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Possibly they search for several online alternatives also. Although these are relevant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should address to 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 due diligence and ultimate selection of the right dental program for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental assistant or hygienist school. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental program 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. Plymouth area employers typically prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not available for non-accredited programs.
Is The Proper Dental Program Offered? You can choose to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just verify that the school you decide on has the program that you want. For the assistant program, the options are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to work as a hygienist, most Plymouth area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are available. However, keep in mind that just because a college has an exceptional reputation and accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a solid 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 college for you.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an important portion of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. Many Plymouth area dental programs have relationships with local dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the college you enroll in provides enough 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, check that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in a local dental office that specializes in dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental schools you are looking at have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective method to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a professional Plymouth dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Most graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant schools require assistance obtaining their first job. Check if the colleges you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental profession in addition to large networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Small? Check with the Pennsylvania colleges you are reviewing how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally offer a more personal setting for training where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes tend to be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the school that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant colleges can vary in cost depending on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also come into play. But along with 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 examining the cost of programs, don’t forget to add all of the costs related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid departments, so make sure to check out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 18651 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental school, you must make sure that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while getting your education and must attend classes near Plymouth in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Find the Best Dental College near Plymouth PAChoosing the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist course is essential if you intend to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous alternatives available to obtain your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs usually 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 generally require approximately 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When obtaining either a degree or a certificate you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training or credential you elect to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.