Top Dental Assistant Training | How to Become a Dental Hygienist near East Pittsburgh PA 15112

How to Pick a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Training Program near East Pittsburgh 15112

dental assistant training in East Pittsburgh PAPicking the right dental hygienist program near East Pittsburgh PA is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than picking the school with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant issues to take into account as well, such as the school’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 specializations you are most interested in getting training for, which may depend on the amount of time and money that you are willing to invest. The most common dental assistant program usually takes about one year to finish for a diploma or certificate. Meanwhile, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to finish. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these considerations and additional questions that you need to be asking the colleges you are assessing later in this article. But first, let’s review the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options provided.

The Function of Dental Assistants

East Pittsburgh dental assistant helping dentist 15112Dental assistants are an integral component of any East Pittsburgh dental practice and can perform a wide range of duties. Their primary job description is to give assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice operating successfully. Some Pennsylvania dental assistants opt to specialize and acquire certification in a specific area, for instance pediatrics. Even so the majority of assistants carry out any task that they are called upon to fulfill, such as:

  • Scheduling and verifying appointments
  • Prepping patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
  • Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
  • Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
  • Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
  • Readying 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 Pennsylvania dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants handling X-ray machines more than likely will have to be certified and licensed. Many dental assistants who are either required or opt to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

The Job of Dental Hygienists

East Pittsburgh dental hygienist treating patient in PennsylvaniaWhen comparing the role of a East Pittsburgh dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and in support of the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the Pennsylvania practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient’s gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:

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

To qualify for licensing in nearly 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 Exam as well as any state licensing examinations. When they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Assistant and Hygienist Training Options

Dental assistant courses are provided at Pennsylvania community colleges as well as trade or vocational schools. The most typical credential attained is the certificate, which generally takes about 1 year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more comprehensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. As a result of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental practices are usually required to hold 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 virtually every state. They are also offered in community colleges and technical schools. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical component to the training also. Some programs also offer internships with East Pittsburgh area dental practices or dentists.

Dental Online Training

attending dental assistant school online in East Pittsburgh homeChoosing an online dental hygienist or assistant program can be a viable alternative for obtaining your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the convenience of your East Pittsburgh home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental programs make education far more accessible. Some may even have lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The clinical training can often be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to get the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you may find that attending an online dental school is the ideal option for you.

Topics to Cover With Dental Hygienist or Assistant Colleges

Questions to ask Pennsylvania dental colleges 15112When you have selected the dental specialty and type of credential you want to earn, you can begin the procedure of comparing East Pittsburgh area programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many prospective students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they look for some online alternatives as well. Even though these are important initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the Pennsylvania programs you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the right dental college for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist or assistant program. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in almost all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the education you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. East Pittsburgh area employers frequently desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not available for non-accredited programs.

Is The Appropriate Dental Program Offered? You can decide to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make sure that the college you decide on offers the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the choices are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to work as a hygienist, a large number of East Pittsburgh 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 excellent 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 might have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are only interested in a dental hygiene degree, naturally it would not be the ideal college for you.

Is Enough Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a necessary portion of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. A number of East Pittsburgh area dental colleges have partnerships with local dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the program you choose offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.

Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental programs you are exploring have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best means to receive hands-on, practical experience in a professional East Pittsburgh dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they look good on resumes as well.

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

Are Classrooms Small? Check with the Pennsylvania schools you are looking at how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate environment for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes can be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a few classes at the college that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.

 What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant schools can fluctuate in cost based on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of schools, don’t forget to include all of the expenses related to your education. Most schools have financial assistance departments, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 15112 area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental school, you must make sure that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while acquiring your education and must attend classes near East Pittsburgh 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 addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family issues.

Enroll in the Right Dental College near East Pittsburgh PA

Picking the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant program is crucial if you intend to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous alternatives available to acquire your education and it takes a relatively short amount 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 typically earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be practicing in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists typically require roughly two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When pursuing either a degree or a certificate you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training or credential you elect to pursue, by asking 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 commence your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.

 

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