Find Dental Assistant Schools | How to Become a Dental Hygienist near Slippery Rock PA 16057

How to Pick a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Slippery Rock 16057

dental assistant training in Slippery Rock PAPicking the ideal dental hygienist program near Slippery Rock PA is an important first 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 school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other important issues to consider as well, such as the program’s reputation and accreditation. 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 commit. The most common dental assistant program usually takes about one year to complete for a certificate or diploma. However, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these issues and additional questions that you should be asking the programs you are assessing later in this article. But first, let’s review the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options available.

The Role of Dental Assistants

Slippery Rock dental assistant helping dentist 16057Dental assistants are an important component of any Slippery Rock dental office and can carry out a wide range of duties. Their primary job description is to give assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice operating efficiently. A number of Pennsylvania dental assistants opt to specialize and obtain certification in a specific area, such as periodontics. Even so most assistants carry out any duty that they are asked to fulfill, including:

  • Setting and verifying appointments
  • Preparing patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
  • Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
  • Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
  • Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
  • Readying X-ray machines and handling X-rays
  • Ordering office and dental supplies

Licensing and certification 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 more than likely will need to be licensed and certified. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or decide to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

The Role of a Dental Hygienist

Slippery Rock dental hygienist treating patient in PennsylvaniaWhen comparing the duties of a Slippery Rock dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. As previously mentioned, 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 frequently the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine every 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 responsibilities may include:

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

To qualify for licensing in almost 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 Examination in addition to passing any state licensure examinations. Once they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist & Assistant Training Options

Dental assistant courses are available at Pennsylvania community colleges in addition to vocational or technical 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 extensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. As a result of the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are usually required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take 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. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a clinical component to the training as well. Many programs also sponsor internships with Slippery Rock area dental practices or dentists.

Dental Online Schools

attending dental assistant school online in Slippery Rock homeEnrolling in an online dental assistant or hygienist school might be a good alternative for obtaining your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Slippery Rock home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And added expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The clinical training can usually be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to obtain the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of education, you may find that enrolling in an online dental program is the best choice for you.

Issues to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Schools

Questions to ask Pennsylvania dental colleges 16057Once you have selected the dental specialization and type of credential you wish to obtain, you can begin the procedure of comparing Slippery Rock area schools and programs. As we covered at the opening of this article, many prospective students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they search for some online options also. Although these may be important initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the Pennsylvania schools you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental program for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental assistant or hygienist program. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in nearly all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the instruction you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Slippery Rock area employers often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.

Is The Correct Dental Program Offered? You can opt to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just verify that the school you decide on has the program that you want. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. If you want to earn a living as a hygienist, most Slippery Rock 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 school has an exceptional reputation as well as accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a strong accredited dental assistant program, but might have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are only interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the right college for you.

Is Adequate Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a vital portion of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. A number of Slippery Rock area dental programs have partnerships with local dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only important that the program you enroll in offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.

Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental programs you are looking at sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective method to get hands-on, clinical experience in a real Slippery Rock dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they look good on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Help Offered? Many graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant schools require help getting their first job. Find out if the schools you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental profession as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.

Are the Classes Smaller? Check with the Pennsylvania programs you are reviewing how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can monitor a few classes at the school that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the degree of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.

 What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant programs can vary in cost depending on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the colleges and if 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 expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of programs, remember to include all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid departments, so make sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 16057 area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental college, you must verify that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and must go to classes near Slippery Rock in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family issues.

Choose the Right Dental Program near Slippery Rock PA

Enrolling in the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist program is essential if you want to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous alternatives available to acquire your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs generally receive either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be working in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists normally require approximately two years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing either a degree or a certificate you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training or credential you choose to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the right selection. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.

 

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