Top Dental Assistant Schools | How to Become a Dental Assistant near Summerhill PA 15958

How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Training Program near Summerhill 15958

dental assistant training in Summerhill PAChoosing the ideal dental assistant school near Summerhill PA is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than choosing the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other significant factors to take into account as well, for instance the school’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specialties you are most interested in receiving training for, which may be contingent on the amount of time and money that you are willing to invest. The most common dental assistant program usually takes about 12 months to finish for a certificate or diploma. Meanwhile, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to finish. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these factors and additional questions that you should be asking the programs you are assessing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options available.

The Role of Dental Assistants

Summerhill dental assistant helping dentist 15958Dental assistants are an important component of any Summerhill dental office and can carry out a variety of tasks. Their principal job description is to provide support to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice working efficiently. Some Pennsylvania dental assistants elect to specialize and earn certification in a particular area, for instance orthodontics. Even so the majority of assistants carry out any duty that they are called upon to fulfill, for example:

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

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

The Job of a Dental Hygienist

Summerhill dental hygienist treating patient in PennsylvaniaWhen comparing the job of a Summerhill dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the Pennsylvania practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They also may perform 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
  • Removing sutures and applying fillings

To qualify for licensing in almost all states, dental hygienists must graduate from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam in addition to passing any state licensure exams. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Assistant & Hygienist Education Options

Dental assistant courses are offered at Pennsylvania junior colleges as well as trade or vocational schools. The most frequent credential acquired is the certificate, which usually takes about a year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more expansive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. Because of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are normally required to have 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 nearly every state. They are also offered in trade schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical component to the training also. Some programs also offer internships with Summerhill area dental practices or dentists.

Online Dental Classes

attending dental assistant school online in Summerhill homeEnrolling in an online dental assistant or hygienist school may be a great option for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Summerhill home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending school, online dental classes make education much more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And supplementary expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The practical training can typically be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to obtain the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of learning, you may find that enrolling in an online dental college is the best choice for you.

Subjects to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Programs

Questions to ask Pennsylvania dental colleges 15958After you have selected the dental specialty and kind of credential you want to obtain, you can begin the procedure of comparing Summerhill area programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they search for several online options also. Although these may be important initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the Pennsylvania programs you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the best dental school for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental assistant or hygienist school. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite 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 establish that the education you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Summerhill area employers frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. 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 verify that the school you decide on has the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. If you want to work as a hygienist, most Summerhill area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, 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 solid accredited dental assistant program, but may have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are primarily interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the right college for you.

Is Plenty of Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a necessary component of every dental training program. This holds true for the online college options as well. A number of Summerhill area dental colleges have partnerships with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the school you enroll in provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in an area dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.

Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental colleges you are exploring sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective method to get hands-on, practical experience in a real Summerhill dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Help Provided? Many graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant programs need assistance landing their first job. Check if the colleges you are researching 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 as well as large networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.

Are Classes Smaller? Check with the Pennsylvania schools you are interested in how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more personal atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, large classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can attend a few classes at the college that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.

 What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene schools can vary in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial 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 examining the cost of programs, remember to include all of the costs related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid departments, so make sure to ask what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 15958 area.

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

Choose the Ideal Dental Program near Summerhill PA

Choosing the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist course is important if you want to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are many alternatives offered to acquire your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools typically earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be practicing in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When obtaining either a degree or a certificate you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of education or credential you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the best selection. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.

 

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