Top Dental Assistant Programs | How to Become a Dental Hygienist near West Medford MA 02156

How to Enroll In a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near West Medford 02156

dental assistant training in West Medford MAPicking the ideal dental hygienist college near West Medford MA is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than picking the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other significant factors to take into account also, such as the college’s accreditation and reputation. 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 have to commit. The most typical dental assistant program normally takes about 12 months to complete for a certificate or diploma. On the other hand, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these issues and additional questions that you should be asking the schools you are assessing later in this article. But first, let’s look at the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options provided.

The Duties of a Dental Assistant

West Medford dental assistant helping dentist 02156Dental assistants are an indispensable part of any West Medford dental office and can carry out a wide range of functions. Their main job description is to give assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice running successfully. Many Massachusetts dental assistants choose to specialize and earn certification in a particular area, for instance orthodontics. Even so the majority of assistants perform any task that they are asked to fulfill, including:

  • Setting and confirming appointments
  • Prepping patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
  • Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
  • Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
  • Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
  • Readying X-ray machines and handling X-rays
  • Purchasing dental and office supplies

Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so consult with the Massachusetts dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants working with X-ray machines most likely will need to be certified and licensed. Many dental assistants who are either required or choose to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

The Role of Dental Hygienists

West Medford dental hygienist treating patient in MassachusettsWhen contrasting the duties of a West Medford dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and in support of the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the Massachusetts practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities may include:

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

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 Exam as well as any state licensure examinations. Once they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist & Assistant Education Options

Dental assistant courses are provided at Massachusetts community colleges in addition to vocational or technical schools. The most frequent credential earned is the certificate, which generally takes about one year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more expansive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. Due to the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental practices are normally 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 virtually every state. They are also offered in vocational schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are pursuing training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a clinical component to the training also. Many programs also offer internships with West Medford area dentists or dental practices.

Dental Online Training

attending dental assistant school online in West Medford homeChoosing an online dental assistant or hygienist school may be a good option for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible via your desktop computer in the convenience of your West Medford home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental classes make education much more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The practical training can usually be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to get the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this method of education, you might find that enrolling in an dental online school is the ideal option for you.

Questions to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Colleges

Questions to ask Massachusetts dental colleges 02156When you have selected the dental specialization and type of credential you wish to attain, you can begin the procedure of comparing West Medford area programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many students start by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they search for several online options also. Although these may be relevant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the Massachusetts schools you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the ideal dental college for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist or assistant college. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost 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 establish that the education you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. West Medford area employers often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.

Is The Right Dental Program Available? You can choose to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make sure that the school you select offers the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the options are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. If you want to earn a living as a hygienist, many West Medford area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are offered. However, bear in mind that even if a school has an excellent reputation and accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college may have a solid accredited dental assistant program, but could have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are just interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the ideal college for you.

Is Adequate Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a vital portion of every dental training program. This holds true for the online college options as well. Many West Medford area dental schools have relationships with local dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only important that the college you enroll in offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in an area dental practice that focuses on dental services for children.

Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental schools you are looking at sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal method to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a professional West Medford dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they look good on resumes too.

Is Job Placement Help Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental hygiene or assistant schools need assistance getting their first job. Check if the schools you are researching 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 profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.

Are the Classrooms Smaller? Check with the Massachusetts colleges you are evaluating how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate setting for training where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can sit in on a few classes at the school that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.

 What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene training can differ in cost depending on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools and whether 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 expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of colleges, don’t forget to include all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance departments, so be sure to check out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 02156 area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental school, you need to verify that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while receiving your education and must attend classes near West Medford at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Pick the Ideal Dental School near West Medford MA

Enrolling in the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant program is essential if you want to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of alternatives offered to receive your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs usually obtain either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be practicing in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require roughly two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When earning either a degree or a certificate you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of education or credential you choose to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal choice. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.

 

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