Find Dental Hygienist Colleges | How to Become a Dental Assistant near Saint Marys WV 26170

How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Training Program near Saint Marys 26170

dental assistant training in Saint Marys WVChoosing the ideal dental hygienist college near Saint Marys WV is an essential initial step toward starting 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 completing your due diligence than picking the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other important factors to consider also, including the college’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the 2 specializations you are most interested in receiving training for, which may depend on the amount of time and money that you have to invest. The most common dental assistant program usually takes about 1 year 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 issues and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the programs you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options available.

The Job of a Dental Assistant

Saint Marys dental assistant helping dentist 26170Dental assistants are an integral component of any Saint Marys dental practice and can carry out a wide range of tasks. Their principal job description is to provide support to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice running successfully. A number of West Virginia dental assistants elect to specialize and obtain certification in a particular area, for example pediatrics. However most assistants perform any task that they are asked to complete, such as:

  • Scheduling 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
  • Readying X-ray machines and handling X-rays
  • Ordering office and dental supplies

Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so check with the West Virginia dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants handling X-ray machines most 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) examination provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

The Role of Dental Hygienists

Saint Marys dental hygienist treating patient in West VirginiaWhen contrasting the duties of a Saint Marys dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest 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 West Virginia practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and report their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties may include:

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

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 also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination as well as any state licensure examinations. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Assistant and Hygienist Education Options

Dental assistant courses are available at West Virginia junior colleges along with vocational or technical schools. The most typical credential acquired is the certificate, which generally takes about 1 year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more expansive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. As a result of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are often 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 trade schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are pursuing training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical component to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with Saint Marys area dental practices or dentists.

Online Dental Training

attending dental assistant school online in Saint Marys homeChoosing an online dental assistant or hygienist school might be a great alternative for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Saint Marys home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental classes make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition fees than their traditional counterparts. And additional expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The practical training can often be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to get the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this method of education, you may find that attending an dental online school is the best choice for you.

What to Cover With Dental Assistant or Hygienist Colleges

Questions to ask West Virginia dental colleges 26170After you have decided on the dental specialization and type of credential you would like to attain, you can start the process of comparing Saint Marys area programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many prospective students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they look for several online options also. Although these are significant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the West Virginia 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 final selection of the ideal dental school for you.

Is the Dental College Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist or assistant program. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in almost all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the education you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Saint Marys area employers often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not available for non-accredited programs.

Is The Proper Dental Program Offered? You can decide to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just confirm that the school you decide on offers 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. In order to have a career as a hygienist, most Saint Marys 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 and accreditation does not mean each one 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 primarily interested in a dental hygiene degree, naturally it would not be the right college for you.

Is Sufficient Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an essential component of any dental training program. This holds true for the online college options also. Most Saint Marys area dental colleges have relationships with regional dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the program you choose offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind 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 a regional dental office that specializes in dental services for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental schools you are evaluating have an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective method to get hands-on, practical experience in a professional Saint Marys 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 Support Provided? Many graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene schools require help getting their first job. Ask if the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental profession as well as broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.

Are Classes Smaller? Find out from the West Virginia programs you are evaluating how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal setting for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a couple of classes at the school that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the degree of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.

 What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant training can differ in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also have an impact. 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 materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of programs, remember to add all of the costs related to your education. The majority of schools have financial aid offices, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 26170 area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental school, you need to make sure that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while acquiring your education and need to attend classes near Saint Marys in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family responsibilities.

Enroll in the Best Dental Program near Saint Marys WV

Enrolling in the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant program is imperative if you intend to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many options available to receive your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can obtain your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools normally receive either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be working in just nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require about two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When pursuing either a certificate or a degree you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training or credential you elect to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the right choice. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.

 

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