Accredited Dental Hygienist Schools | How to Become a Dental Assistant near Somerset PA 15501

How to Find the Right Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Somerset 15501

dental assistant training in Somerset PAPicking the right dental assistant school near Somerset PA is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must assess and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than choosing the school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your home. There are other important issues to consider as well, for instance the school’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 specialties you are most interested in getting training for, which may depend on the amount of money and time that you are willing to invest. The most typical dental assistant program usually takes about one year to complete for a certificate or diploma. On the other hand, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you should be asking the schools you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let’s review the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options available.

The Function of a Dental Assistant

Somerset dental assistant helping dentist 15501Dental assistants are an indispensable part of any Somerset dental office and can carry out a wide range of functions. Their fundamental job description is to provide assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice operating successfully. A number of Pennsylvania dental assistants choose to specialize and obtain certification in a specific area, for example pediatrics. Even so most assistants perform any task that they are called upon to fulfill, such as:

  • Scheduling and confirming appointments
  • Preparing patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
  • Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
  • Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
  • Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
  • Prepping 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 more than likely will need to be certified and licensed. 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 Function of Dental Hygienists

Somerset dental hygienist treating patient in PennsylvaniaWhen comparing the duties of a Somerset dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. As previously mentioned, the dental assistant works with and in support of the dentists and the practice. 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 room. They examine every patient’s teeth and gums and present their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:

  • Removing stains, tartar and plaque
  • Administering fluoride treatments
  • Applying sealants and polishing teeth
  • Educating patients regarding oral care
  • Taking and developing X-rays
  • 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 must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination in addition to passing any state licensure examinations. When they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Assistant & Hygienist Education Options

Dental assistant courses are available at Pennsylvania community colleges in addition to technical or vocational schools. The most common credential acquired is the certificate, which usually takes about 1 year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more comprehensive education, incorporating 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 practices are generally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually 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 practical component to the training also. A number of programs also offer internships with Somerset area dental practices or dentists.

Online Dental Classes

attending dental assistant school online in Somerset homeSelecting an online dental hygienist or assistant school may be a viable alternative for receiving your training. Just remember that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Somerset home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental classes make education far more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The clinical training can often be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to obtain the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you might find that attending an dental online school is the right choice for you.

Subjects to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Programs

Questions to ask Pennsylvania dental colleges 15501When you have picked the dental specialty and type of credential you wish to earn, you can start the procedure of comparing Somerset area schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many prospective students start by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they search for several online alternatives as well. Although these may be important initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the Pennsylvania colleges 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 program for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist or assistant school. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in virtually all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the training you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Somerset area employers often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not obtainable for non-accredited schools.

Is The Right Dental Program Offered? You can elect to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just confirm that the college you select offers the program that you want. For the assistant program, the choices are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to work as a hygienist, most Somerset area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, bear in mind that just because a college has a good reputation and accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college may have a solid 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, clearly it would not be the ideal school for you.

Is Enough Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a necessary component of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. Many Somerset area dental programs have relationships with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the college you select provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in a regional dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.

Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental colleges you are looking at sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the best means to get hands-on, clinical experience in a real Somerset dental practice. They help 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 also.

Is Job Placement Support Offered? Most graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant schools require assistance getting their first job. Ask if the colleges you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.

Are Classes Small? Ask the Pennsylvania colleges you are reviewing how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, bigger classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the school that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.

 What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene programs can differ in cost based on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of programs, don’t forget to add all of the expenses associated with your education. Most colleges have financial assistance offices, so make sure to check out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 15501 area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental school, you need to verify that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while receiving your education and must go to classes near Somerset in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family issues.

Select the Best Dental College near Somerset PA

Choosing the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist course is crucial if you wish to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of options available to acquire your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools generally obtain either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be working in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists typically require about 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When earning either a certificate or a degree you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of education or credential you decide to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the right choice. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.

 

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