Accredited Dental Assistant Schools | How to Become a Dental Hygienist near Berkeley Springs WV 25411

How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Training Program near Berkeley Springs 25411

dental assistant training in Berkeley Springs WVSelecting the ideal dental hygienist college near Berkeley Springs WV is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than selecting the college with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant factors to consider as well, such as the school’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specialties you are most interested in getting training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you have to commit. The most typical dental assistant program normally takes about one year to complete for a certificate or diploma. Meanwhile, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to complete. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these concerns and additional questions that you should be asking the programs you are assessing later in this article. But first, let’s review the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options offered.

The Duties of a Dental Assistant

Berkeley Springs dental assistant helping dentist 25411Dental assistants are an indispensable part of any Berkeley Springs dental office and can perform a multitude of tasks. Their fundamental job description is to furnish assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice operating successfully. A number of West Virginia dental assistants choose to specialize and earn certification in a particular area, such as periodontics. Even so the majority of assistants carry out any task that they are called upon to complete, such as:

  • Scheduling and verifying appointments
  • Preparing patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
  • Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
  • Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
  • Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
  • Readying X-ray machines and handling X-rays
  • Ordering office and dental supplies

Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so consult with the West Virginia dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants handling X-ray machines most likely will have 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 Dental Hygienists

Berkeley Springs dental hygienist treating patient in West VirginiaWhen comparing the duties of a Berkeley Springs dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. As earlier mentioned, the dental assistant works with and in support of the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the West Virginia practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient’s teeth and gums and report their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:

  • Removing tartar, stains and plaque
  • Administering fluoride treatments
  • Applying sealants and polishing teeth
  • Teaching patients regarding oral hygiene
  • Taking X-rays and developing film
  • Removing sutures and applying fillings

To qualify for licensing in nearly all states, dental hygienists must graduate from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam in addition to passing any state licensure examinations. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist and Assistant Education Options

Dental assistant programs are offered at West Virginia community colleges as well as trade or vocational schools. The most typical credential attained is the certificate, which usually takes about a year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more comprehensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. Because of the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices 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 nearly 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. Many programs also sponsor internships with Berkeley Springs area dentists or dental practices.

Dental Online Training

attending dental assistant school online in Berkeley Springs homeSelecting an online dental assistant or hygienist school might be a good option for getting your training. Just remember that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the convenience of your Berkeley Springs home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to college, online dental programs make education far more accessible. Some may even offer lower tuition costs than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The practical training can usually be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to get the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you may find that attending an dental online college is the best choice for you.

Questions to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Colleges

Questions to ask West Virginia dental colleges 25411Once you have picked the dental specialization and type of credential you want to earn, you can start the procedure of comparing Berkeley Springs area schools and programs. As we covered at the opening of this article, many students start by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they look for some online alternatives also. Even though these may be relevant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the West Virginia schools you are reviewing in order to arrive at 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 right dental program for you.

Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist or assistant program. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in nearly all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the instruction you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Berkeley Springs area employers frequently desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, often they are not available for non-accredited colleges.

Is The Proper Dental Program Offered? You can elect to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make certain that the school you choose has the program that you want. For the assistant program, the options are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to have a career as a hygienist, a large number of Berkeley Springs area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not prevalent, are offered. However, bear in mind that just because a college has a good reputation and accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college may have a strong accredited dental assistant program, but may 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 college for you.

Is Adequate Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an important component of every dental training program. This holds true for the online college options also. Most Berkeley Springs area dental colleges have associations with local dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the school you select provides adequate 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, verify that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local dental office that specializes in dental treatment for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental colleges you are looking at have an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal way to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a real Berkeley Springs dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes too.

Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Most graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant schools need assistance obtaining their first job. Find out if the programs you are considering 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 community as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.

Are Classes Smaller? Ask the West Virginia colleges you are interested in how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, larger classes can be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a few classes at the college that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.

 What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant colleges can vary in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also come into play. But in addition to 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 equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, remember to add all of the expenses associated with your education. Most colleges have financial assistance offices, so be sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 25411 area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental school, you must verify that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and have to go to classes near Berkeley Springs at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family issues.

Choose the Best Dental College near Berkeley Springs WV

Picking the right dental hygienist or dental assistant course is important if you want to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of alternatives available to obtain your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can obtain your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs normally obtain either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be practicing in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require about 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When obtaining either a degree or a certificate you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training or credential you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the right choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.

 

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