How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Training Program near Sussex 23884
Choosing the right dental hygienist program near Sussex VA is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than selecting the training with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant factors to consider as well, for instance the program’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 specializations you are most interested in getting training for, which may depend on the amount of time and money that you are willing to commit. The most typical dental assistant program generally takes about one year to complete for a diploma or certificate. However, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to finish. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these concerns and additional questions that you need to be asking the colleges you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s look at the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options available.
The Function of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an indispensable component of any Sussex dental office and can carry out a wide range of functions. Their principal job description is to furnish assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice running successfully. Many Virginia dental assistants opt to specialize and acquire certification in a specific area, for instance pediatrics. Even so the majority of assistants perform any duty that they are asked to complete, for example:
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Ordering dental and office supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so check with the Virginia dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants working with X-ray machines most likely will need to be licensed and certified. Many dental assistants who are either required or elect to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Duties of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the duties of a Sussex dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. As earlier mentioned, the dental assistant works with and in support of the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the Virginia practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing patients about oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing 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 Exam in addition to passing any state licensing exams. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist and Assistant Education Options
Dental assistant courses are available at Virginia junior colleges as well as vocational or technical schools. The most frequent credential acquired is the certificate, which generally takes about one year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more expansive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. Because of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices 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 complete and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly every state. They are also offered in community colleges and technical schools. Regardless of whether you are pursuing training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a clinical component to the training also. Some programs also sponsor internships with Sussex area dental practices or dentists.
Dental Online Classes
Choosing an online dental assistant or hygienist college can 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 practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible via your personal computer in the convenience of your Sussex home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to school, online dental classes make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even charge lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The practical training can usually be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to get the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this style of education, you may find that enrolling in an dental online college is the best choice for you.
Questions to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Programs
After you have picked the dental specialty and kind of credential you want to attain, you can begin the procedure of comparing Sussex area schools and programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of students start by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they search for several online alternatives as well. Even though these are significant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the Virginia programs you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the ideal dental college for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental assistant or hygienist college. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in almost all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Sussex 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, often they are not provided for non-accredited schools.
Is The Proper Dental Program Offered? You can choose to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make certain that the school you decide on has the program that you want. For the assistant program, the options are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. In order to work as a hygienist, the majority of Sussex area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are available. However, bear in mind that even if a college has a good reputation and 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 solely interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the best school for you.
Is Enough Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an essential part of every dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. A number of Sussex area dental programs have associations with local dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the school you select provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in an area dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental colleges you are considering have internship programs. Internships are probably the best means to receive hands-on, practical experience in a professional Sussex dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Many graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant programs require assistance getting their first job. Find out if the programs you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental community in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Small? Find out from the Virginia programs you are looking at how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate environment for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, larger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the college that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the degree of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant programs can differ in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of programs, remember to include all of the costs associated with your education. Most colleges have financial aid offices, so make sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 23884 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental school, you need to make sure that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and must go to classes near Sussex 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 procedure is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.
Find the Right Dental School near Sussex VAChoosing the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist program is crucial if you want to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous alternatives offered to acquire your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools generally earn either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be practicing in just nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists typically require approximately 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When pursuing either a certificate or a degree 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 presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the right selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.