Find Dental Hygienist Programs | How to Become a Dental Hygienist near Pottstown PA 19464

How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Training Program near Pottstown 19464

dental assistant training in Pottstown PAChoosing the right dental assistant training near Pottstown PA is an essential first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than selecting the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your home. There are other significant factors to consider also, such as the school’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you are willing to invest. The most common dental assistant program usually takes about 12 months to complete for a diploma or certificate. Meanwhile, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Naturally with the longer 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 looking at later in this article. But first, let’s review the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options provided.

The Function of Dental Assistants

Pottstown dental assistant helping dentist 19464Dental assistants are an integral part of any Pottstown dental office and can undertake a myriad of functions. Their fundamental job description is to furnish support to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice running successfully. Some Pennsylvania dental assistants elect to specialize and acquire certification in a specific area, for instance periodontics. However 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
  • Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
  • Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
  • Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
  • Readying X-ray machines and processing X-rays
  • Ordering office and dental supplies

Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so check with the Pennsylvania dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines most likely will need to be certified and licensed. 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 Dental Hygienists

Pottstown dental hygienist treating patient in PennsylvaniaWhen contrasting the role of a Pottstown dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. As earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and in support of the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the Pennsylvania practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine every 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 duties can include:

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

In order to be licensed 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 in addition to passing any state licensure examinations. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist & Assistant Training Options

Dental assistant programs are provided at Pennsylvania junior colleges in addition to trade or vocational schools. The most common credential acquired is the certificate, which usually takes about one year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more expansive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. Because of the increased 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 take anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 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 interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical component to the training as well. Some programs also sponsor internships with Pottstown area dentists or dental practices.

Online Dental Training Programs

attending dental assistant school online in Pottstown homeSelecting an online dental hygienist or assistant program can be a good option for receiving your education. Just remember that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Pottstown home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending college, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition costs than their on-campus counterparts. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The practical training can usually be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to obtain the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you might find that enrolling in an online dental school is the ideal choice for you.

What to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Programs

Questions to ask Pennsylvania dental colleges 19464Once you have picked the dental specialty and kind of credential you would like to earn, you can start the process of comparing Pottstown area programs and schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of students start by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they look for some online options also. Although these are important initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the Pennsylvania schools you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental school for you.

Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist or assistant school. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in virtually all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the training you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Pottstown area employers typically desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not available for non-accredited programs.

Is The Correct Dental Program Available? You can elect to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make sure that the school you decide on offers the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to work as a hygienist, most Pottstown 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 college may have a solid accredited dental assistant program, but may have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are just interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the best college for you.

Is Adequate Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a necessary part of every dental training program. This holds true for the online college options as well. A number of Pottstown area dental colleges have partnerships with local dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the college you choose provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental programs you are exploring have internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal means to get hands-on, clinical experience in a real Pottstown dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Support Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental hygiene or assistant colleges require help obtaining their first job. Ask if the programs you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.

Are the Classrooms Small? Find out from the Pennsylvania colleges you are interested in how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more intimate environment for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes can be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the school that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.

 What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene programs can fluctuate in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other significant expenses 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 schools, don’t forget to include all of the costs associated with your education. Most colleges have financial aid offices, so make sure to find out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 19464 area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental college, you must confirm that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and have to attend classes near Pottstown 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 addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.

Choose the Right Dental Program near Pottstown PA

Choosing the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist program is imperative if you intend to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous alternatives offered to obtain your education 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 schools usually obtain either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be working in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists normally require roughly two years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing either a certificate or a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever credential or mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.

 

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