Accredited Dental Hygienist Schools | How to Become a Dental Assistant near Berwick PA 18603

How to Find the Right Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Berwick 18603

dental assistant training in Berwick PASelecting the ideal dental hygienist program near Berwick PA is an essential initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than selecting the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other crucial factors to consider also, including the college’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 specializations you are most interested in receiving training for, which may depend on the amount of time and money that you are willing to invest. The most common dental assistant program generally takes about one year to complete for a diploma or certificate. However, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these factors and additional questions that you need to be asking the colleges you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s look at the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options available.

The Role of Dental Assistants

Berwick dental assistant helping dentist 18603Dental assistants are an essential component of any Berwick dental practice and can undertake a wide range of tasks. Their fundamental job description is to give assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice running successfully. A number of Pennsylvania dental assistants choose to specialize and receive certification in a particular area, for example orthodontics. However most assistants carry out any task that they are asked to complete, including:

  • Scheduling and verifying appointments
  • Preparing patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
  • Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
  • Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
  • Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
  • Prepping X-ray machines and processing X-rays
  • Purchasing dental and office supplies

Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so consult with the Pennsylvania dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines most likely will need 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) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

The Job of a Dental Hygienist

Berwick dental hygienist treating patient in PennsylvaniaWhen comparing the role of a Berwick dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As previously mentioned, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the Pennsylvania practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are frequently the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient’s teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:

  • Removing stains, tartar and plaque
  • Administering fluoride treatments
  • Polishing teeth and applying sealants
  • Instructing patients about oral care
  • 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 must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination as well as any state licensing examinations. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Assistant and Hygienist Education Options

Dental assistant courses are available at Pennsylvania community colleges along with vocational or technical schools. The most common credential acquired is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about 1 year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more expansive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. Due to the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices are generally required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require 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 trade schools and community colleges. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a clinical aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with Berwick area dental practices or dentists.

Dental Online Schools

attending dental assistant school online in Berwick homeChoosing an online dental assistant or hygienist program may be a great option for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Berwick home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to school, online dental classes make education far more accessible. Some may even have lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The clinical training can typically 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 proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you might find that attending an dental online school is the best option for you.

What to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Colleges

Questions to ask Pennsylvania dental colleges 18603When you have picked the dental specialization and type of credential you would like to attain, you can start the process of comparing Berwick area programs and schools. As we covered at the start of this article, a number of students start by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they search for several online options also. Even though these may be relevant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the Pennsylvania programs you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental college for you.

Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist or assistant school. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the education you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Berwick area employers often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited colleges.

Is The Appropriate Dental Program Offered? You can elect to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just verify that the school you decide on offers the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. If you want to earn a living as a hygienist, a large number of Berwick area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not prevalent, are offered. However, bear in mind that just because a college has an exceptional reputation as well as accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college may have a solid 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 ideal college for you.

Is Adequate Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an important part of every dental training program. This is true for the online school options also. Many Berwick area dental schools have partnerships with local dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the college you choose offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in a local dental office that focuses on dental care for children.

Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental schools you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective means to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a professional Berwick 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 also.

Is Job Placement Help Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental hygiene or assistant programs need help obtaining their first job. Find out if the programs you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.

Are Classrooms Small? Ask the Pennsylvania programs you are interested in how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal environment for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a couple of classes at the school that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.

 What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene programs can differ in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other significant costs 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 examining the cost of colleges, don’t forget to add all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance offices, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 18603 area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental school, you must confirm that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and need to go to classes near Berwick in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family responsibilities.

Select the Ideal Dental School near Berwick PA

Selecting the right dental hygienist or dental assistant program is important if you wish to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several options offered to receive your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can obtain your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools generally obtain either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be practicing in just nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require approximately two years of studies before they enter the job market. When obtaining either a degree or a certificate you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of education or credential you choose to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.

 

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