Top Dental Hygienist Programs | How to Become a Dental Hygienist near Catlett VA 20119

How to Enroll In a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Catlett 20119

dental assistant training in Catlett VAChoosing the ideal dental hygienist program near Catlett VA is an essential first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than selecting the training with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant issues to consider also, for instance the college’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in receiving training for, which may depend on the amount of time and money that you have to commit. The most common dental assistant program normally takes about 12 months to finish for a certificate or diploma. On the other hand, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to finish. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the colleges you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let’s look at the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options offered.

The Function of Dental Assistants

Catlett dental assistant helping dentist 20119Dental assistants are an indispensable part of any Catlett dental office and can perform a variety of tasks. Their fundamental job description is to furnish support to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice working efficiently. A number of Virginia dental assistants opt to specialize and obtain certification in a particular area, for example pediatrics. However most assistants perform any task that they are called upon to fulfill, such as:

  • Scheduling and verifying appointments
  • Readying patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
  • Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
  • 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 deviate by state, so check with the Virginia dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants working with X-ray machines most likely will need to be licensed and certified. Many dental assistants who are either required or choose to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

The Role of a Dental Hygienist

Catlett dental hygienist treating patient in VirginiaWhen contrasting the job of a Catlett dental hygienist to that of an assistant, 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 Virginia practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are frequently the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine each 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 duties can include:

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

In order to be licensed in nearly 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 in addition to passing any state licensure exams. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist and Assistant Education Options

Dental assistant programs are provided at Virginia community colleges along with trade or vocational schools. The most typical credential acquired is the certificate, which usually takes about a year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more comprehensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. Because of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices are generally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require 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 community colleges and technical schools. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical component to the training also. Some programs also offer internships with Catlett area dental practices or dentists.

Online Dental Schools

attending dental assistant school online in Catlett homeSelecting an online dental assistant or hygienist program may be a good option for receiving your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Catlett home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending school, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The clinical training can usually be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to receive the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you might find that enrolling in an dental online college is the ideal choice for you.

Subjects to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Programs

Questions to ask Virginia dental colleges 20119When you have picked the dental specialty and type of credential you want to attain, you can begin the process of comparing Catlett area programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of students start by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Maybe they search for several online alternatives also. Although these are significant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you should address to the Virginia colleges you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the ideal dental program for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only select an accredited dental assistant or hygienist college. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in almost 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 ensure that the education you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Catlett area employers frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not offered for non-accredited programs.

Is The Appropriate Dental Program Available? You can opt to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just confirm that the school you choose offers the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the choices are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. If you want to earn a living as a hygienist, the majority of Catlett area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not prevalent, are offered. However, keep in mind that just because a school 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 strong accredited dental assistant program, but may have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are primarily interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the right college for you.

Is Enough Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a necessary component of every dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. A number of Catlett area dental colleges have partnerships with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the college you select provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want 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 regional dental office that focuses on dental services for children.

Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental colleges you are evaluating have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best method to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Catlett dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes too.

Is Job Placement Help Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental assistant or hygiene programs need assistance landing their first job. Find out if the schools you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges 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 internships or employment.

Are the Classes Smaller? Find out from the Virginia schools you are looking at how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal environment for learning 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 school that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.

 What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant training can differ in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools and whether 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 textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of programs, remember to include all of the costs associated with your education. Most colleges have financial assistance offices, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 20119 area.

Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental college, you need to verify that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while acquiring your education and must go to classes near Catlett in the evenings 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 protocol is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Choose the Best Dental Program near Catlett VA

Selecting the ideal dental assistant or dental hygienist program is crucial if you wish to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several alternatives available to acquire your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can acquire your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools typically earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be working in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require roughly two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When pursuing either a certificate or a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever credential or mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.

 

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