Top Dental Hygienist Colleges | How to Become a Dental Assistant near Easton PA 18040

How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Training Program near Easton 18040

dental assistant training in Easton PASelecting the right dental hygienist program near Easton PA is an important initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must examine and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than selecting the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other significant factors to consider also, including the school’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specialties you are most interested in receiving training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you have to invest. The most common dental assistant program generally takes about 1 year to complete for a certificate or diploma. On the other hand, dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the programs you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s review the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options available.

The Duties of a Dental Assistant

Easton dental assistant helping dentist 18040Dental assistants are an important part of any Easton dental office and can undertake a multitude of functions. Their main job description is to furnish assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice operating efficiently. Many Pennsylvania dental assistants elect to specialize and obtain certification in a specific area, for instance periodontics. However the majority of assistants carry out any job that they are asked to complete, for example:

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

Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so consult with the Pennsylvania 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 opt to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

The Job of Dental Hygienists

Easton dental hygienist treating patient in PennsylvaniaWhen contrasting the duties of a Easton dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and in support of the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the Pennsylvania practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and present their results to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:

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

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 also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination in addition to passing any state licensure examinations. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Assistant and Hygienist Education Options

Dental assistant programs are offered at Pennsylvania community colleges as well as vocational or technical schools. The most common credential attained is the certificate, which usually takes about one year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more comprehensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. Because of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices are normally 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 almost every state. They are also offered in vocational schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with Easton area dentists or dental practices.

Online Dental Classes

attending dental assistant school online in Easton homeSelecting an online dental assistant or hygienist school can be a great option for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible via your personal computer in the convenience of your Easton home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to school, online dental classes make education far more accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The clinical training can typically be completed at an area dental office 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 mode of learning, you may find that attending an online dental school is the ideal choice for you.

Topics to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Colleges

Questions to ask Pennsylvania dental colleges 18040When you have decided on the dental specialty and type of credential you wish to earn, you can begin the procedure of comparing Easton area programs and schools. As we covered at the start of this article, a number of students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they search for some online options as well. Although these are relevant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the Pennsylvania schools you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental program for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several 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 nearly 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 ensure that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Easton area employers typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not available for non-accredited schools.

Is The Appropriate Dental Program Offered? You can decide to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just verify that the college you decide on has the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the options are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. In order to earn a living as a hygienist, most Easton area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, keep in mind that just because a college has a good reputation as well as accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a solid accredited dental assistant program, but may have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are just interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the right college for you.

Is Sufficient Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an essential portion of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. A number of Easton area dental programs have associations with regional dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the college you enroll in provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind 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 school you select offers clinical rotation in a local dental office that specializes in dental treatment for children.

Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental programs you are looking at have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal method to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a real Easton dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes too.

Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Most students that have graduated from dental hygiene or assistant programs need assistance obtaining their first job. Find out if the colleges you are reviewing 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 in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.

Are Classes Small? Check with the Pennsylvania schools you are interested in how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more intimate environment for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the college that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.

 What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant training can vary in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private 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 materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of colleges, don’t forget to add all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance departments, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 18040 area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental school, you need to confirm that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while getting your education and need to go to classes near Easton at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family responsibilities.

Select the Right Dental School near Easton PA

Picking the right dental assistant or dental hygienist program is crucial if you intend to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous alternatives available to receive your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can receive your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs typically obtain 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 before they enter the job market. When earning either a certificate or a degree you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training or credential you decide to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the right choice. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.

 

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