Top Dental Assistant Schools | How to Become a Dental Hygienist near Shrewsbury MA 01545

How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Shrewsbury 01545

dental assistant training in Shrewsbury MAChoosing the right dental assistant training near Shrewsbury MA is an essential initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must examine and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than picking the college with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your home. There are other important factors to take into account 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 obtaining training for, which may depend on the amount of money and time that you are willing to commit. The most common dental assistant program usually takes about 1 year to complete for a diploma or certificate. Meanwhile, dental hygienists typically 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 explore all of these considerations and additional questions that you need to be asking the schools 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 offered.

The Role of a Dental Assistant

Shrewsbury dental assistant helping dentist 01545Dental assistants are an indispensable component of any Shrewsbury dental office and can undertake a wide range of duties. Their main job description is to furnish support to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice running efficiently. Some Massachusetts dental assistants opt to specialize and obtain certification in a particular area, such as pediatrics. Even so the majority of assistants carry out any task that they are asked to fulfill, for example:

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

Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so consult with the Massachusetts dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants handling X-ray machines more than likely will need to be licensed and certified. Most dental assistants who are either required or decide to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

The Duties of a Dental Hygienist

Shrewsbury dental hygienist treating patient in MassachusettsWhen contrasting the job of a Shrewsbury 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 dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the Massachusetts practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:

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

In order to be licensed in nearly all states, dental hygienists must graduate from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam as well as any state licensing 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 Assistant and Hygienist Education Options

Dental assistant courses are available at Massachusetts community colleges in addition to technical or vocational schools. The most common credential acquired is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about 1 year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more expansive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. Because of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices are generally 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 assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical aspect to the training as well. Some programs also sponsor internships with Shrewsbury area dental practices or dentists.

Dental Online Schools

attending dental assistant school online in Shrewsbury homeEnrolling in an online dental hygienist or assistant program may be a great alternative for getting your education. Just remember that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Shrewsbury home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending college, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The clinical training can often be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to get the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this style of education, you might find that attending an dental online school is the right choice for you.

Points to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Schools

Questions to ask Massachusetts dental colleges 01545After you have picked the dental specialization and kind of credential you wish to earn, you can start the procedure of comparing Shrewsbury area programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many students start by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they look for several online options also. Although these may be significant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the Massachusetts schools you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the ideal dental college for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only select an accredited dental assistant or hygienist program. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in nearly 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 guarantee that the education you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Shrewsbury area employers often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not provided 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 make certain that the school you choose offers the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the options are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. In order to earn a living as a hygienist, a large number of Shrewsbury area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are offered. However, keep in mind that just because a school has a good reputation as well as accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a solid accredited dental assistant program, but could have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are just interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the best school for you.

Is Plenty of Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a vital part of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. Most Shrewsbury area dental colleges have relationships with regional dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the program you select provides 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 are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in an area dental office that specializes in dental treatment for children.

Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental schools you are evaluating have internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective method to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a real Shrewsbury dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Most graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene colleges require help obtaining their first job. Check if the schools you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges 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 refer their students for internships or employment.

Are the Classrooms Smaller? Check with the Massachusetts programs you are looking at how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more personal setting for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, larger classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a couple of classes at the school that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.

 What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant programs can differ in cost depending on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other significant 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 analyzing the cost of colleges, don’t forget to add all of the expenses associated with your education. Most colleges have financial assistance departments, so be sure to check out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 01545 area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental school, you need to verify that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while receiving your education and must go to classes near Shrewsbury in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Pick the Right Dental School near Shrewsbury MA

Picking the right dental hygienist or dental assistant program is important if you wish to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of alternatives available to receive your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools normally obtain either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be working in just nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning either a certificate or a degree you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever credential or mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal choice. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.

 

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