Find Dental Assistant Programs | How to Become a Dental Hygienist near Westover PA 16692

How to Find the Right Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Westover 16692

dental assistant training in Westover PASelecting the right dental hygienist college near Westover PA is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must examine and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than picking the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your home. There are other important issues to take into account also, such as the college’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the 2 specialties you are most interested in receiving training for, which may be contingent on the amount of time and money that you have to commit. The most common dental assistant program usually takes about one year to finish for a certificate or diploma. However, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to finish. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these factors and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the colleges you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s look at the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options offered.

The Duties of Dental Assistants

Westover dental assistant helping dentist 16692Dental assistants are an essential part of any Westover dental office and can perform a variety of duties. Their primary job description is to provide support to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice working efficiently. Many Pennsylvania dental assistants opt to specialize and obtain certification in a specific area, such as orthodontics. However the majority of assistants carry out any duty that they are asked to complete, for example:

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

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

The Function of Dental Hygienists

Westover dental hygienist treating patient in PennsylvaniaWhen comparing the duties of a Westover dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the Pennsylvania practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the first 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 also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:

  • Removing tartar, stains and plaque
  • Applying fluoride treatments
  • Polishing teeth and applying sealants
  • Educating patients regarding oral care
  • Taking X-rays and developing film
  • Applying fillings and removing sutures

In order to be licensed 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 as well as any state licensure examinations. After they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Assistant & Hygienist Education Options

Dental assistant programs are provided at Pennsylvania junior colleges in addition to trade or vocational schools. The most frequent credential attained is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about one year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more comprehensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. Due to the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental practices are usually required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly every state. They are also offered in community colleges and technical schools. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a clinical component to the training as well. Some programs also sponsor internships with Westover area dentists or dental practices.

Dental Online Schools

attending dental assistant school online in Westover homeChoosing an online dental hygienist or assistant school might be a great alternative for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Westover home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The practical training can typically be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this method of education, you may find that attending an dental online school is the right option for you.

What to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Programs

Questions to ask Pennsylvania dental colleges 16692When you have selected the dental specialization and kind of credential you would like to obtain, you can begin the procedure of comparing Westover area programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of potential students start by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they look for several online options also. Even though these are relevant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the Pennsylvania colleges you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the best dental school for you.

Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental assistant or hygienist college. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in nearly all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the training you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Westover area employers frequently prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not offered for non-accredited schools.

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 you want. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to earn a living as a hygienist, many Westover area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are offered. However, bear in mind that even if a school has an excellent reputation and 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 could have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are just interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the right school for you.

Is Adequate Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a necessary part of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. A number of Westover area dental colleges have associations with local dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the program you enroll in provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in an area dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental colleges you are looking at have internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal way to get hands-on, clinical experience in a real Westover 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 too.

Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental assistant or hygiene programs need help landing their first job. Check if the colleges you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental profession in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.

Are the Classes Small? Check with the Pennsylvania programs you are interested in how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, larger classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a couple of classes at the college that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.

 What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant colleges can differ in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But in addition to 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 schools, remember to add all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial aid offices, so be sure to check out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 16692 area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental school, you must make sure that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while receiving your education and have to attend classes near Westover in the evenings 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 procedure is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Enroll in the Right Dental Program near Westover PA

Selecting the right dental assistant or dental hygienist course is essential if you wish to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several options available to obtain your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can receive your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools typically earn either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be practicing in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists normally require about two years of studies before they enter the work force. When earning either a degree or a certificate you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of education or credential you choose to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.

 

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