Find Dental Assistant Colleges | How to Become a Dental Assistant near Woodlawn VA 24381

How to Pick a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Training Program near Woodlawn 24381

dental assistant training in Woodlawn VAPicking the right dental hygienist college near Woodlawn VA is an important initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than choosing the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your home. There are other significant factors to take into account also, such as the program’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specialties you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may depend on the amount of money and time that you have to invest. The most typical dental assistant program usually takes about 1 year to finish for a diploma or certificate. Meanwhile, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these concerns and additional questions that you should be asking the colleges you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options available.

The Function of Dental Assistants

Woodlawn dental assistant helping dentist 24381Dental assistants are an indispensable component of any Woodlawn dental practice and can carry out a wide range of tasks. Their primary job description is to provide support to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice operating efficiently. Some Virginia dental assistants choose to specialize and receive certification in a particular area, such as periodontics. Even so most assistants perform any task that they are called upon to fulfill, including:

  • Setting and verifying 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
  • Prepping X-ray machines and processing X-rays
  • Purchasing 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 mandates. Assistants working with X-ray machines most likely will need to be certified and licensed. Many dental assistants who are either required or elect to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

The Role of a Dental Hygienist

Woodlawn dental hygienist treating patient in VirginiaWhen comparing the role of a Woodlawn dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and in support of the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the Virginia practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s teeth and gums and report their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities may include:

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

In order to be licensed in almost 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 exams. Once they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can 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 community colleges in addition to vocational or technical schools. The most common credential acquired is the certificate, which generally takes about a year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more expansive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. Because of the additional responsibility in contrast 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 finish and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually every state. They are also offered in trade schools and community colleges. Whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a clinical aspect to the training also. Some programs also sponsor internships with Woodlawn area dental practices or dentists.

Online Dental Classes

attending dental assistant school online in Woodlawn homeSelecting an online dental hygienist or assistant program can be a good alternative for obtaining your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Woodlawn home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to school, online dental programs make education far more accessible. Many may even have lower tuition rates than their traditional competitors. And supplementary 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 clinical and online training, everything necessary to receive the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you might find that enrolling in an dental online program is the best option for you.

Points to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Schools

Questions to ask Virginia dental colleges 24381After you have decided on the dental specialty and type of credential you wish to obtain, you can start the process of comparing Woodlawn area programs and schools. As we covered at the start of this article, many prospective students start by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they search for some online options as well. Even though these may be important initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the Virginia schools you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the ideal dental college for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist or assistant program. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the training you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Woodlawn area employers typically desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, often they are not offered for non-accredited programs.

Is The Correct Dental Program Offered? You can choose to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make certain that the college you decide on has the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the choices are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to work as a hygienist, many Woodlawn 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 college has an exceptional reputation as well as 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 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 Sufficient Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an essential portion of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. A number of Woodlawn area dental colleges have partnerships with regional dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the school you choose provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental colleges you are evaluating have an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal way to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a real Woodlawn dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they look good on resumes also.

Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Most students that have graduated from dental hygiene or assistant programs require help obtaining their first job. Check if the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental profession as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.

Are the Classrooms Smaller? Check with the Virginia schools you are interested in how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal setting for training where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the school that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.

 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 volume of practical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the colleges 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 examining the cost of colleges, remember to include all of the costs associated with your education. Most schools have financial assistance departments, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 24381 area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental college, you need to confirm that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while acquiring your education and must attend classes near Woodlawn at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family issues.

Find the Best Dental Program near Woodlawn VA

Selecting the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist program is essential if you intend to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous alternatives offered to obtain your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can acquire your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs normally receive either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be working in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require about 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When pursuing either a certificate or a degree you can choose 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 in a better position to make the appropriate choice. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.

 

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