Find Dental Hygienist Schools | How to Become a Dental Assistant near Studley VA 23162

How to Find the Right Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Studley 23162

dental assistant training in Studley VAChoosing the right dental assistant program near Studley VA is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to analyze 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 issues to take into account as well, for instance the program’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specialties you are most interested in getting training for, which may be contingent on the amount of time and money that you have to invest. The most typical dental assistant program usually takes about 12 months to complete for a diploma or certificate. Meanwhile, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these factors and supplemental questions that you should be asking the programs you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let’s review the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options available.

The Function of Dental Assistants

Studley dental assistant helping dentist 23162Dental assistants are an important part of any Studley dental office and can carry out a wide range of functions. Their main job description is to provide support to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice operating successfully. Some Virginia dental assistants opt to specialize and receive certification in a particular area, for example periodontics. However the majority of assistants carry out any duty that they are asked to fulfill, including:

  • Setting and verifying appointments
  • Prepping patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
  • Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
  • Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
  • Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
  • Preparing X-ray machines and processing X-rays
  • Ordering office and dental supplies

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

The Job of Dental Hygienists

Studley dental hygienist treating patient in VirginiaWhen contrasting the role of a Studley dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. As earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and in support of the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the Virginia practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine each 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 may include:

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

To qualify for licensing 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 Examination as well as any state licensing examinations. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist & Assistant Training Options

Dental assistant programs are offered at Virginia junior colleges along with vocational or technical schools. The most frequent credential attained is the certificate, which usually takes about one year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more comprehensive 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 usually required to have 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 almost 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 aspect to the training as well. Many programs also offer internships with Studley area dentists or dental practices.

Dental Online Programs

attending dental assistant school online in Studley homeEnrolling in an online dental assistant or hygienist school may be a viable alternative for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible via your personal computer in the comfort of your Studley home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And supplementary expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The clinical training can often be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to get the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you might find that enrolling in an dental online school is the ideal option for you.

Issues to Cover With Dental Assistant or Hygienist Colleges

Questions to ask Virginia dental colleges 23162When you have picked the dental specialty and type of credential you want to obtain, you can begin the process of comparing Studley area schools and programs. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of potential students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Maybe they search for several online alternatives as well. Although these are significant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the Virginia colleges you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the best dental school for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental assistant or hygienist program. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the training you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Studley area employers often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited colleges.

Is The Right Dental Program Available? You can opt to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make certain that the school you select 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. If you want to have a career as a hygienist, the majority of Studley area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are available. However, bear in mind that even if a school 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 only interested in a dental hygiene degree, naturally it would not be the ideal school for you.

Is Plenty of Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an important portion of every dental training program. This holds true for the online college options as well. Many Studley area dental colleges have partnerships with area dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the program you select provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a regional dental office that specializes in dental treatment for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental programs you are considering sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective method to get hands-on, practical experience in a real Studley 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 as well.

Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Most students that have graduated from dental assistant or hygiene colleges need help landing their first job. Check if the programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.

Are the Classrooms Small? Ask the Virginia schools you are evaluating how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes generally provide a more intimate environment for training where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, bigger classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a few classes at the school that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.

 What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene training can differ in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of colleges, remember to include all of the costs related to your education. Most schools have financial assistance departments, so be sure to ask what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 23162 area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental college, you need to confirm that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while acquiring your education and need to go to classes near Studley in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still be required 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 because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Enroll in the Ideal Dental College near Studley VA

Enrolling in the right dental assistant or dental hygienist course is important if you want to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous alternatives available to acquire your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can receive 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 practicing in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists typically require about two years of studies before they enter the work force. When earning either a certificate or a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training or credential you decide to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.

 

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