How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Oakland Mills 17076
Picking the right dental assistant training near Oakland Mills PA is an essential first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than picking the college with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your home. There are other important issues to take into account also, such as the college’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may depend on the amount of money and time that you are willing to invest. The most common dental assistant program usually takes about one year to finish for a diploma or certificate. On the other hand, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you should be asking the colleges you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options available.
The Job of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an essential part of any Oakland Mills dental practice and can perform a multitude of tasks. Their principal job description is to furnish support to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice working efficiently. A number of Pennsylvania dental assistants elect to specialize and earn certification in a particular area, for instance pediatrics. Even so the majority of assistants perform any task that they are called upon to fulfill, such as:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Ordering dental and office supplies
Licensing and certification 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 have to be certified and licensed. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or elect to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Role of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the duties of a Oakland Mills dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. As earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and in support of the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the Pennsylvania practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients about oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
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 Examination in addition to passing any state licensure exams. After 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 and Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant courses are offered at Pennsylvania junior colleges as well as technical or vocational schools. The most common credential acquired is the certificate, which generally takes about a year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more extensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. As a result of the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are usually required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require 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 trade schools and community colleges. Whether you are interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical component to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with Oakland Mills area dentists or dental practices.
Dental Online Training
Enrolling in an online dental assistant or hygienist school can be a great option for getting your training. Just remember 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 provided via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Oakland Mills home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even charge lower tuition costs than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The practical training can often be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to obtain the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this method of education, you may find that enrolling in an online dental college is the ideal choice for you.
Subjects to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Schools
After you have decided on the dental specialization and kind of credential you wish to attain, you can start the process of comparing Oakland Mills area programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Possibly they look for several online alternatives also. Even though these may be relevant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the Pennsylvania programs you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the ideal dental college for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only select an accredited dental assistant or hygienist school. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the education you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Oakland Mills area employers frequently prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not available for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Offered? You can opt to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make sure that the college 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 have a career as a hygienist, many Oakland Mills area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, keep in mind that just because a school has a good 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 may have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are just interested in a dental hygiene degree, naturally it would not be the best school for you.
Is Plenty of Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an essential portion of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options also. Most Oakland Mills area dental colleges have associations with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the program you enroll in provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in a local dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental colleges you are considering sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the best way to receive hands-on, practical experience in a professional Oakland Mills dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Most graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene schools require assistance obtaining their first job. Find out if the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental community as well as large networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Small? Find out from the Pennsylvania schools you are looking at how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes often are impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the college that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant training can vary in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other substantial costs 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, remember to add all of the costs associated with your education. Most schools have financial assistance offices, so make sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 17076 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental college, you must make sure that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and must attend classes near Oakland Mills in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family issues.
Find the Ideal Dental School near Oakland Mills PAChoosing the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist course is imperative 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 options offered to acquire your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs typically receive either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be working in as little as 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 degree or a certificate you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever credential or mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the best choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.