Accredited Dental Assistant Schools | How to Become a Dental Assistant near Bealeton VA 22712

How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Bealeton 22712

dental assistant training in Bealeton VAPicking the ideal dental assistant school near Bealeton VA is an important initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than choosing the college with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your residence. There are other important factors to take into account as well, such as the school’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in receiving training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you are willing to invest. The most common dental assistant program normally takes about 1 year to finish for a diploma or certificate. However, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to complete. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these issues and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the colleges you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s review the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options available.

The Function of a Dental Assistant

Bealeton dental assistant helping dentist 22712Dental assistants are an important component of any Bealeton dental office and can undertake 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 operating efficiently. Some Virginia dental assistants elect to specialize and obtain certification in a specific area, such as orthodontics. Even so the majority of assistants carry out any task that they are called upon to fulfill, for example:

  • Scheduling and verifying appointments
  • Prepping patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
  • Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
  • Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
  • Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
  • Prepping X-ray machines and handling X-rays
  • Purchasing office and dental supplies

Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so consult with the Virginia dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants working with X-ray machines more than 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 provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

The Role of a Dental Hygienist

Bealeton dental hygienist treating patient in VirginiaWhen comparing the role of a Bealeton dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. As previously mentioned, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the Virginia practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties may include:

  • Removing tartar, stains and plaque
  • Applying fluoride treatments
  • Polishing teeth and applying sealants
  • Instructing patients about oral hygiene
  • Taking and developing X-rays
  • Removing sutures and applying fillings

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 also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination as well as any state licensure exams. After they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist & Assistant Training Options

Dental assistant programs are available at Virginia junior colleges as well as trade or vocational schools. The most frequent credential attained is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about 1 year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more extensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. As a result of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental practices are generally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually every state. They are also offered in community colleges and technical schools. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical component to the training also. Many programs also offer internships with Bealeton area dentists or dental practices.

Online Dental Training

attending dental assistant school online in Bealeton homeChoosing an online dental hygienist or assistant college may be a great alternative for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the convenience of your Bealeton home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to school, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The clinical training can usually be completed at an area dental office 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 style of education, you may find that attending an online dental school is the best option for you.

Topics to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Colleges

Questions to ask Virginia dental colleges 22712When you have selected the dental specialty and kind of credential you wish to attain, you can start the procedure of comparing Bealeton area programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many prospective students start by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they look for some online alternatives as well. Although these may be relevant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the Virginia programs you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental college for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist or assistant program. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in almost 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 training you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Bealeton area employers often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.

Is The Appropriate Dental Program Offered? You can choose to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make sure that the college you choose has the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the choices are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. If you want to earn a living as a hygienist, many Bealeton area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are offered. However, bear in mind that even if a school 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 strong 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, naturally it would not be the best school for you.

Is Sufficient Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a vital portion of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. Many Bealeton area dental programs have relationships with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only important that the college you enroll in offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the school you select offers clinical rotation in an area dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental colleges you are considering sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best method to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Bealeton 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 look good on resumes as well.

Is Job Placement Support Offered? Many graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene schools require help getting their first job. Ask if the programs you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental profession in addition to large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.

Are Classes Smaller? Check with the Virginia programs you are reviewing how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal setting for training where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, larger classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a few classes at the college that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the amount of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.

 What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant programs can vary in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, such as 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 expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, don’t forget to add all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of schools have financial aid offices, so be sure to ask what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 22712 area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental school, you need to confirm 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 need to go to classes near Bealeton at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.

Find the Right Dental School near Bealeton VA

Picking the right dental hygienist or dental assistant course is imperative if you want to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many alternatives offered to receive your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can obtain your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools typically receive either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be working in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists typically require roughly two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When obtaining either a certificate or a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training or credential you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the right choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.

 

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